Should I Buy Pet Liability Insurance?

In his excitement to greet his postie friend, your Bichon Frise accidently trips the postal worker while delivering your package.

Not knowing his own size and strength, your Great Dane turns, knocking an elderly lady flying with his back end.

Your kitten becomes too excited during a play session with your friend’s child and badly scratches her face.

Although none of these scenarios involve a bite or aggressive attack, they are all incidents causing possible injury from what would normally be considered a harmless pet.

Can you lose your shirt over your happy, enthusiastic pet? You bet!

Buying Pet Liability Insurance

Basic homeowner and renter insurance policies generally cover up to $100,000 in the case of a dog bite (although we recommend you always double check with your insurance company to confirm coverage). However, not only may the amount be too low in the case of some accidents, it also may not cover non-bite related incidents.

In the United States alone, claims due to dog-related injuries amount to over $1 Billion a year and although the majority will be bite related, a portion of that will also be non-bite incidents.

As responsible pet owners, we do everything we can to ensure our pets are well-behaved, well-socialized, obedient and non-aggressive members of our families but accidents happen. Do you want to be on the end of an expensive medical ill without proper protection?

Most insurance companies recommend a minimum of $300,000 worth of coverage for a medium sized breed. In the case of large breeds or molosser breeds such as Rottweiler, Shar Pei, Chow Chow and various mastiffs that, on average, do more damage when they do bite because of their genetic predisposition to ‘take and hold’ a bite versus ‘nip’.

Many pet insurance companies include liability insurance in their policies. This added protection helps reward responsible owners who take the health of their pet seriously and want to know that they have additional financial back up in case of a medical emergency.

Pet Liability Insurance for the Unexpected

  • Are you a business owner with employees? What if a client brings their dog into your business and it either bites an employee or, for example, knocks over the ladder that your employee is standing on? Who is responsible? Because you are the employer and it is your place of business, you are the first in line for a lawsuit. Does your workman’s compensation cover pet related accidents in your business? Does your business property insurance? Find out and make sure you are covered.
  • Many well-behaved pooches that would never raise a lip normally are fiercely protective of their vehicles. What happens if your pet bites the gas station attendant or some other hapless bystander who gets too close to your wheels? Is this bite covered by your auto insurance or your home insurance? Find out!
  • You own a rental property and your tenants have a dog. What if it injures someone? Will their insurance cover it or is it up to your policy? Find out! An offshoot of this, of course, is are you covered should the tenant’s dog tear up your house?

There is no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to your pet liability insurance. Make sure you are covered for these rare but not unheard of eventualities.

What to Watch for when Buying Pet Liability Insurance

Pet liability insurance is not as straightforward as it sounds. There are multiple loopholes insurance companies can write into their policies and if it sounds like too good of a deal, it probably is!

Watch for:

  • Does the policy cover dog bites?
  • Does the policy exclude certain dog breeds?
  • Does the policy limit the number of times it will pay out to the victim in the case of long-term care and recovery?
  • Does the policy put a cap on the amount of money the company will pay?
  • Does the policy exclude household residents or members of the community?

Many cities and/or states require that owners of specific breeds or individual dogs that are considered dangerous hold pet liability insurance. Does your policy cover all breeds? Does your policy cover you if your dog is deemed aggressive or dangerous by your city?

The Big Reason for Pet Liability Insurance

Whether it is bite or non-bite related, the majority of people injured by dogs are the family, friends and neighbors of the pet. Do you want your daughter to be scared for life because you can’t afford the surgery to repair the damage caused to her face when her kitten scratched her nose and lip? Or what about the friendly, dog loving postal worker who tripped over your Bichon and hit his head on your cement steps?

Pet liability insurance is like a strong privacy fence between you and your friendly neighbors – you do not have to have it but its a great strategy to protect everyone involved including the friendship.



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