Can Pets Affect Your Homeowner’s Insurance?

Pets impact many different aspects of their owners’ lives from their sleep schedule to how often they take evening walks to the hefty amounts they start charging to their bank accounts when they go on pet toy shopping sprees.

But one area you may not immediately think of when you get a new pet is how they can affect your homeowner’s insurance policy.

People love their pets and want to do everything they can to protect them, but what do you do when your animal attacks someone else, leaving you to face the financial burden of medical expenses and potential legal fees? Well, that’s where insurance can step in to help.

Depending on your pet’s breed and risk factor, you may find that your homeowner’s insurance can step in to help provide coverage. But if you have a pet that poses a greater risk factor, you may need to invest in alternative, pet-specific policies.

Do Insurance Agents Need to Be Notified If You Get A Pet?

While your animal may be the sweetest, most well-behaved animal when they’re with people they know, they pose a certain danger to strangers or people they’re less familiar with. And with this danger comes the risk that they may bite, scratch, or otherwise attack. This is especially common among dogs.

Because of this risk, you absolutely need to notify your insurance agent that you’ve added a new member to your family. That way, your policy can be adjusted to provide you with coverage just in case something goes wrong.

Note that while you should notify your agent, either way, you especially need to do so if you purchase a non-canine high-risk pet, exotic animal, or one of a few specific dog breeds.

What High-Risk and Exotic Pets Affect Homeowner’s Insurance?

There are many non-canine high-risk pets and exotic animals that may affect your homeowner’s insurance policy. These can include specific cat breeds and other traditionally non-domesticated and non-farm animals. Note that different insurance companies will have their own definitions of what constitutes a non-domesticated animal. 

These are a few of the most common high-risk and exotic animals that may affect your insurance policy:

  • Bengal Cats
  • Egyptian Mau Cats
  • Savannah Cats
  • Snakes
  • Hedgehogs
  • Sugar Gliders
  • Various Frog Species 
  • Toucans
  • Cockatoos
  • Tarantulas
  • Scorpions
  • Bearded Dragons
  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Gerbils

Which Specific Dog Breeds Can Affect Insurance Rates?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a dog bite is approximately $44,760, so it’s vital that you have the right insurance coverage in place for your pet. And because these lawsuits can be so expensive, many insurance agencies have a strict list of banned dog breeds that they will not allow to be covered by their policies.

And while each insurance company is different, there are several dog breeds that are commonly banned across the board. These include:

  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Pitbulls
  • Rottweilers
  • Chow Chows
  • Wolfdogs and wolf hybrids
  • Presa Canarios
  • Akitas
  • German Shepards
  • Huskies
  • American Bulldogs

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Include Dog Bite Coverage?

The majority of homeowners insurance coverage options will cover dog bites through the liability extension of your policy. Again, the extent of this coverage will depend entirely on your specific policy, your state’s regulations, as well as your dog’s breed and bite history. Typically these can cover between $100,000 and $300,000 in damages with any additional claims coming out of the owner’s pocket. 

If your dog doesn’t have a bite history, you may not be held liable for its first bite with some insurance companies, but if it has a known bite history, most owners are held legally liable for any damages.

Note that the bite doesn’t have to occur on your property for you to be held liable. It doesn’t matter where your dog is–if they bite someone, you are legally responsible for the injury. Additionally, if you encourage your dog to bite someone, you will likely not be covered.

What About Renter’s Insurance?

Renter’s insurance policies include coverage for pets, but as with homeowners insurance, you’ll need to double-check with your agent to make sure that your specific animal will be eligible for protection. Typically, a renter’s insurance policy will cover medical fees associated with basic bites and scratches, and it can even help offset certain legal fees if you face a lawsuit.

How Can You Get Coverage for Exotic Animals?

There are certain exotic animals that may be covered under your existing homeowner’s policy, but you will need to confirm with your agent to make sure your pet is on their approved list. 

However, suppose your insurance company won’t allow your pet to be covered under your existing homeowner’s policy. In that case, you may need to invest in an exotic pet-specific policy that operates separately from your homeowner’s insurance. That way, you can have insurance against your pet attacking others and insurance to keep them safe if they get sick or are injured.

Key Takeaways

No matter what kind of pet you have, it’s always a good option to check with your insurance agent to make sure you’ll be covered if they ever bite or scratch another person. 

With the right circumstances, any pet can be pushed to lash out,  and some breeds pose a more significant risk factor than others, so purchasing the right insurance options and add-ons ahead of time can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

If you want to learn more about how your pets can impact your homeowner’s policy or which alternative pet insurance options are available, don’t wait–contact our top-tier team of skilled agents today!