You might already know that homeowners insurance offers personal liability coverage for third parties that are injured on your property. But does this coverage extend to damage caused by your pets?
If you have a dog or cat in your home, it’s important to understand how animal liability insurance works in Florida. In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into pet liability insurance to help you identify risks and find the coverage that’s right for you.
What Is Animal Liability?
Dogs and cats are a source of amusement and affection, but they can also be dangerous, even with the right training. Like any animal—or person, for that matter—dogs and cats defend themselves when they feel threatened, and even the gentlest pet may bite if provoked.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are more than 17,000 dog bite claims each year, and in Florida, the average cost of a pet liability claim is more than $75,000.
In the insurance industry, the term liability refers to a homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that their property (living or otherwise) doesn’t harm anyone. If a visitor suffers an injury or property damage because of your pet, they may file a lawsuit against you to cover the cost of the damage.
What Is Pet Liability Insurance?
Most pet owners probably don’t have $75,000 to cover dog bites or cat scratches. Fortunately, your renter’s or home insurance policy offers some animal liability coverage.
Animal liability insurance covers medical bills, damage to personal property, and legal costs you might incur as a result of a pet-related lawsuit.
The injury doesn’t have to happen on your property, either. Pet liability covers damage that occurs outside the home as well. So if your dog bites your neighbor while on a walk or your cat destroys your mom’s brand-new couch, they can turn to your insurance policy for reimbursement.
Pet liability insurance does not cover:
- Your own pet’s injury or illness;
- Damage to your personal belongings caused by your pet;
- Injuries to a member of your household caused by your pet.
Animal Liability Exceptions
Like any type of insurance coverage, policy limits will apply, although you may be able to purchase an umbrella policy to increase your limits. Your insurance company can also choose not to extend coverage to certain households.
Some insurance companies will refuse to provide coverage to certain breeds of dogs. Each insurance company has its own requirements, but Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers are the most commonly banned breeds.
However, genetics isn’t the only qualification. Dogs with a history of biting may also be exempt from coverage as well. This means that your insurance coverage might be dropped if your dog does bite someone.
It’s also important to note that animal liability insurance only covers dogs listed on your policy. Failure to disclose pets on your insurance application will not only result in not having pet liability insurance, but it is also fraud and may result in having your home insurance canceled.
“Does This Mean I Can’t Have a Dog?”
Not at all!
Millions of people across the United States have dogs—even those breeds that are often “banned” by insurance companies.
Every insurance company handles “non-compliant” animals a bit differently. Some may cover your pet but raise your premiums. Others may ask you to sign a pet liability waiver and exclude your pet from coverage. Still others may refuse to offer you coverage.
Keep in mind, however, that just because one company won’t insure you, it doesn’t mean that no one will. Speak to a local independent insurance agency to find affordable coverage that meets all of your needs.
Protecting Your Family
As much as we love our furry friends, we can’t always guarantee that they will be perfect. Fortunately, animal liability coverage gives you a way to protect your family in the event of a dog bite or pet-related incident.
At Darr Schackow Insurance, our first priority is making sure our customers are prepared for whatever life has in store for them (or for their pets). Whether you’re looking for a solid homeowner’s policy, an umbrella policy, or stand-alone pet liability insurance, our friendly agents will scour the market to find the coverage that’s right for you.
Call today for a free quote.