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Does Home Insurance Cover Dog Attacks?

Updated Jan 9, 2023

Updated Jan 9, 2023

Home > Home Insurance > Does Home Insurance Cover Dog Attacks?

In 2021, home insurance companies paid out $881 million for liability claim dollars related to dog bites and dog-related injuries. Dog bite and dog-related injury claims are so rampant that they account for more than a third of all homeowner liability claim dollars. Unfortunately, these types of claims are only increasing, with an analysis of homeowners insurance data showing a 2.2% increase in dog bite and dog-related injury claims from 2019 to 2020 alone. 

To protect themselves, home insurance companies have banned the biggest dog breed offenders to reduce their risk of approvable dog bite claims. Some home insurance companies don’t have a banned dog breeds list. However, they may decide whether or not to reimburse you for a dog bite claim based on a case-by-case scenario. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites or Attacks?

Generally speaking, home insurance will cover dog bites or attacks on individuals not living on your property. For example, if your dog bites a guest or visiting friend, your homeowners insurance policy may reimburse you for related medical bills and legal fees if you’re sued, up to the liability limits of your policy. 

Some homeowners are surprised that home insurance covers dog-related injuries. However, this is because dogs are considered “personal property,” so they’re usually included in personal liability coverage within home insurance plans. 

Typical scenarios where pet-related incidents are covered by homeowners insurance include your dog: 

  • Biting a neighbor or guest, resulting in their hospitalization and a lawsuit
  • Attacking your neighbor’s pricey rose garden or fence
  • Attacking a neighbor’s cat
  • Damaging a guest’s belongings, like an expensive laptop, when they’re visiting

It’s also important to note that homeowners insurance will cover dog bites, even if you’re not on your property during the incident. For example, if your dog bites someone on their property or chases them into the street and attacks them. 

However, there are specific exclusions that you must know about as a pet owner regarding animal liability coverage. 

What Dog Breeds Are Most Frequently Banned?

rottweiler sitting in grass
Image Source: Canva

Many home insurance companies have breed restrictions, which usually exclude the most frequent offenders for dog bites and attacks. This protects the company from additional medical expenses and legal fees racked up by dog breeds with a reputation for biting others. 

Here are the most commonly excluded breeds of dogs from homeowners insurance coverage: 

  • Rottweilers
  • German shepherds
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Siberian huskies
  • Mastiffs
  • Akitas
  • Pit bulls
  • Staffordshire terriers
  • Great Danes
  • Chow chows
  • Wolf dogs and wolf hybrids
  • Akitas
  • Presa canarios
  • Alaskan malamutes
  • Mastiffs
  • American bulldogs
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Belgian Malinois

Homeowners insurance companies may also exclude a dog based on its history or other factors. These are some standard exclusions: 

  • If your dog is a mixed-breed containing at least one dog breed from the banned list. 
  • Variations of the same dog breed. For example, pit bulls encompass multiple bull breeds. 
  • Dog bite history. Does your dog have a history of biting? Your dog’s history is something your insurance provider will ask you about when you sign up for homeowners coverage or a renters insurance policy. Before your claim is approved, the company will verify that what you’ve reported about your dog’s bite history is correct, which may disqualify you from reimbursement if you didn’t tell them the truth initially. 
  • Guard dogs may be excluded from dog bite liability coverage. 
  • If your dog is observed acting aggressively by an insurance agent or company employee. 
  • Dogs with prior incidents where they attacked a human or animal with force. 

Other Common Exclusions

Home insurance companies may also reject your dog bite claim, even if your dog breed is covered for the following reasons: 

  • You will not be covered if you set your dog on someone or prompt them to bite someone. 
  • If you operate a business and your dog bites someone else, your provider would likely reject this claim. For example, your home insurance provider would dismiss a dog bite claim in most cases if you run a dog grooming business or bring your dog to work. If you’re interested in additional coverage for these settings, look into business insurance for added coverage. 
  • Liability insurance only covers injuries to people living outside of our household. If your dog bites your child or roommate, medical payment coverage will not apply to this situation.
  • If you don’t inform your insurance company of your pet before the dog bite incident, it’s unlikely it will cover any incidents. As soon as you get a dog, immediately contact your home insurance company to ensure your pet is included in your coverage. Having a pet on the premises will likely affect your insurance premium, so it’s essential to have this adjusted as soon as you get a dog rather than surprising your insurance company with this news later on. 
  • Your coverage limits will affect how much your provider will reimburse others for medical costs or legal expenses related to a dog attack. Dog bite claims are typically close to $50,000, so double-check that your coverage limits are appropriate for your situation, especially if you have an aggressive or larger dog that tends to do more damage during an attack. 

Is Homeowners Insurance Worth it for Pet Owners?

owner and pug sitting in grass
Image Source: Canva

In short, homeowners insurance is worth it for pet owners. Not only does it protect you financially if your home is burglarized, vandalized, or damaged during a natural disaster, but it protects you legally and financially if someone is harmed on your property. Whether this is from a dog bite or a guest tripping over a garden tool, homeowners insurance is a vital legal step to keeping yourself and your finances safe. 

Many dog owners think their pets would never harm anyone, and this may be the case most of the time. However, even the most docile dog can be spooked or worried for its physical safety and may lash out against someone else, making homeowners insurance critical. 

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