Does home insurance cover dog bites?

Personal liability coverage and medical payments coverage on your homeowners insurance policy may pay for injuries, legal expenses, and hospital bills if a dog you're responsible for bites someone. However, not all home insurers offer coverage for dog bites. Whether or not you're covered depends on several factors, such as your insurance company, policy coverage, location, and dog breed.

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How does homeowners insurance cover dog bites?

If your dog bites someone and you’re liable, your homeowners insurance policy has two different coverages that may offer protection. Personal liability coverage can pay for injuries for which you’re responsible and potential lawsuit costs, up to the limits of your policy. Medical payments coverage may cover necessary medical expenses for injuries on your property. For example, your friend gets knocked down by your dog and breaks an ankle. In this case, your medical payments coverage can pay for their hospital bills, up to your policy’s limit.

What factors determine whether a dog bite is covered by homeowners insurance?

Some insurance companies may decline coverage if your state has classified your dog as potentially dangerous, such as a Rottweiler, Pit Bull, or Mastiff. Other companies will evaluate the individual animal before deciding on coverage, and some insurers will not consider the dog breed at all. Other factors, such as whether the dog has a bite history, may come into play.

Check to see if your area has specific statutes relating to insurance and dog bites. Some states require specific amounts of liability insurance if you own a dog that’s considered more likely to bite. Your city or state may also require you to put up warning signs, leash your dog, or take other preventative measures to reduce the risk of a dog bite.

While dog bites are more common with younger children, your homeowners insurance won’t extend coverage if your dog bites your child or anyone living in your household. Learn about adding a dog to your home insurance policy.

Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites off my property?

Certain policies may limit coverage for dog bites that occur away from your property, so check with your insurer.

Does umbrella insurance cover dog bites?

A standard homeowners insurance policy includes anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 of personal liability coverage. If you don't think that's enough, you can supplement the amount of coverage with a separate umbrella insurance policy. Umbrella insurance can protect your assets if your liability amount exceeds the limits of your homeowners insurance policy.

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