Pet Ownership and Renters Insurance

Picture of a man, woman and dog in house

When you own your own home, you know that you must insure not only your house but also its contents as a form of protection in case disaster strikes. However, it is not just homeowners that need to consider comprehensive insurance coverage. Families that rent their homes and also share their lives with pets could be liable should their dog or cat cause harm to a person or inflict damage on the grounds of their property. Leading insurance agents report that the industry has levied payouts totalling $800 million dollars for dog bite complaints on rental properties. With the average amount reported to be nearly $45,000 per case, it becomes quite clear why you need to consider purchasing renters insurance if you rent your house and share the space with pets.

What Kind of Insurance Do Renters with Pets Need?

There are several different types of insurance renters with pets can purchase to ensure they have adequate protection. Experts agree that renters should consider two different policies: one that provides protection against pet-related damages to people and property and the other to address their pet’s health needs should they arise.

The first type of insurance that conscientious renters with pets need is called renters insurance. Though standard renters insurance will cover the contents of a home and the property, renters will need to specifically request the addition of a rider to address pet liability. Pet liability insurance ensures that should an accident occur resulting in injury to a person or damage to a property by a pet that you are not held responsible financially for hospital bills or repairs. No renter should be without this insurance.

Unlike renters insurance, pet insurance focuses solely on health issues related to your pet. This type of protection can save pet owners a lot of money; particularly, if the policy is purchased when the dog is just a puppy. Each insurance company will offer various different amounts of coverage, and most will not insure any condition which is considered to be pre-existing. Standard veterinary care including wellness exams, vaccinations, and flea and tick preventatives are most often not covered under these policies.

What is Covered Under Renters Insurance?

Recent statistics indicate that almost one-third of all renters share their home with a dog. Because of this, renters insurance has become increasingly popular among the pet owning public.

Savvy owners should be certain to purchase a policy that offers them sufficient coverage to cover any damages that may occur as the result of any injury to a friend or neighbor or to property. In essence, renters insurance funds any repairs required to the rental property or is issued as a reimbursement for damaged goods or medical care required to treat an injury.

But renters insurance covers more than simply pet-related problems. It also provides you with additional security in the event a visitor to your home sustains an injury on your property or an act of God occurs making your home inhabitable for a period of time.

All insurance policies for rental properties include a certain amount of liability coverage. The standard amount is most typically between $100,000 to $300,000. For renters with pets, it is vitally important to ensure that this policy includes accidents or injuries related to their dogs or cats.

Liability coverage will pay for any medical or legal expenses up to the maximum amount of the policy, leaving the renter responsible only for any balance. You will also want to be certain that you carefully read your policy to ensure you understand precisely what is covered and what exceptions may apply.

How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?

Many property managers and landlords insist that all tenants carry renters insurance as a form of protection for both of them. This is an excellent idea as it eliminates the potential for disputes in the event an accident, theft of belongings, or damage occurs within the home or on the property. Though the landlord will carry insurance for the property and house itself, it makes no provision for the belongings of the tenant or financial responsibility for damage, accidents, or injury inflicted by the renter or their dog.

Renters insurance is typically quite reasonable. Conservative estimates rate it as costing between $12 to $25 per month, depending on the amount of coverage and the insurance carrier. Of course, higher rates are also expected by some companies, and renters that are considered to be high risk may be required to purchase policies with higher monthly dollar figures.

What is Not Covered Under Renters Insurance for People with Pets?

The average renters insurance policy covers basic damages inflicted as a result of an accident, injury, or wilful destruction of property by a pet. However, as with all insurance policies, there are some exceptions. Among the exclusions that are sometimes seen in renters insurance policies are:

  • Accidents involving certain dog breeds
  • Policy voiding for owning a breed considered to be a “banned breed” within that state

For renters that share their homes with a breed that is considered dangerous or banned and fall under an exception for coverage, there are several options you can explore to provide additional protection against liability. These include:

  • Personal Umbrella Policy

A personal umbrella policy extends additional liability coverage in the event a renter’s breed of choice is considered dangerous or banned. This type of insurance rider can also be purchased to help cover any damages that exceed the original liability limit.

  • Pet Liability Insurance

Pet liability insurance is an excellent idea for renters who own dogs with a history of past aggression. This type of policy can also be written to include any problems that may occur when the dog and owner are off their property as well.

Why Does Some Renters Insurance with Pet Liability Cost More?

Unfortunately, some dog breeds have simply gotten a bad rap. Based on a well-researched and documented list of breeds involved in fatal dog bites, there are a number of dog breeds considered most likely to engage in dangerous and/or life-threatening activities. These breeds are believed to pose a greater public risk, and thus, are more expensive to insure.

Among the breeds the study concluded as potentially dangerous include:

  • Pit bull type dogs
  • Rottweilers
  • Husky or Malamute type dogs
  • German Shepherds
  • Wolf-dog hybrids
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Great Danes
  • Akitas
  • Saint Bernards
  • Presa Canarios
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks

What are Some Things Owners Can Do to Prevent Accidents and Damage from Pets?

There are several different things conscientious owners can do to help set their dogs up for success, and thus, avoid having to use their renters insurance. Among the best tips recommended by experts are:

  • Training

All dogs should be trained to comply with basic obedience commands. Mastery of this skill can help save the dog’s life as well as provide additional protection for your property. Dogs who have undergone basic obedience training are typically better behaved and more likely to listen to their owners.

  • Keep your dog well exercised

A tired dog has no interest in getting up to mischief. Ensure Fido gets regular daily exercise, and he will be much less likely to decide digging holes in your yard or taking a chomp out of your neighbor is a good idea.

  • Dog proof your house and property

Set your dog up for success by removing things from your home or yard that are likely to get him into trouble.

Moving into a rental property with your best canine pal? Consider purchasing renters insurance with pet liability to keep you and your dog well protected in the event an accident or injury occurs.



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