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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

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Updated: Oct 10, 2023
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Homeowners insurance generally covers the expenses related to dog bites through the personal liability coverage within the policy. This coverage is pivotal in addressing potential legal or medical costs arising from your dog's actions toward others.

However, there are limitations, such as breed exclusions or coverage caps, that might affect the extent of coverage for dog bites. Recognizing the specifics of your policy, the broader financial landscape surrounding dog bites, and alternative insurance options can significantly contribute to your financial preparedness and responsible pet ownership.

Key Takeaways

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Homeowners insurance generally covers dog bite-related expenses through personal liability coverage.

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Certain limitations exist within homeowners insurance, like breed exclusions or coverage caps, requiring a review of your policy.

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Alternative coverage options like pet liability insurance and umbrella insurance offer tailored protection for pet owners.

How Home Insurance Covers Dog Bites

Homeowners insurance typically covers related expenses if your dog bites someone; this is courtesy of the personal liability coverage included in your policy. This specific aspect of your insurance addresses legal fees or medical expenses that might arise should your dog injure another person, offering a financial safeguard against potential liability claims. Whether the dog bite occurs on or off your premises, your home insurance policy will cover the related expenses.

However, it’s important to review your policy for any breed exclusions or other limitations to ensure comprehensive protection. Some insurers might require additional pet liability coverage, especially for breeds perceived as high-risk. Thus, making well-informed decisions regarding your insurance coverage is a proactive step in ensuring safety and financial security while embracing the joys of pet ownership.

When Doesn’t Home Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

While homeowners insurance often provides coverage for dog bites under personal liability, there are certain circumstances where coverage may not apply. Understanding these exclusions helps in making informed decisions and exploring alternative coverage options to ensure complete protection.

  • Breed Exclusions: Some policies exclude certain breeds deemed high-risk from coverage, such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers, leaving you financially vulnerable if your dog belongs to one of these breeds.
  • Negligence: If a dog bite occurs due to your negligence, like failing to restrain your dog properly, your insurance may deny the claim.
  • Previously Declared Dangerous: If your dog has been officially declared dangerous or has a history of aggressive behavior, your policy might not cover subsequent bites.
  • Off-Policy Locations: Your policy might not extend coverage if the bite occurs in locations not covered by your insurance, such as outside the geographical limit set by the policy.
  • Lack of Reporting: Failing to report a dog in your household to the insurance provider may lead to denial of coverage in case of a bite.

These outlined scenarios underscore the importance of meticulously reviewing your insurance policy and considering additional pet liability coverage if necessary.

Are You Liable if Your Dog Bites Someone?

When your dog bites someone, it's important to recognize that liability can indeed extend to you as the owner. The responsibility stems from the legal concept of owner liability, where the owner is held accountable for their dog's actions. While specific laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction, dog owners typically bear the burden of ensuring their pets don't pose a threat to others.

Negligence in controlling or restraining your dog or awareness of your dog's aggressive tendencies can exacerbate your liability. Being a responsible owner involves taking measures to prevent bites, such as proper training, socialization and supervision, thus mitigating the risk of legal and financial consequences.

Dog Bite Statistics

Dog bites not only cause physical pain but also lead to financial concerns, especially for homeowners. Insurance claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries highlight an alarming trend, with an increase in both the number of incidents and the costs involved. The statistics below shed light on this issue, showcasing the significant financial implications borne by insurance providers and reflecting the real-world consequences of these incidents.

  • The total number of dog bite claims across the nation saw a 2.2% rise, tallying up to 17,989 claims from 2020 to 2021.
  • In 2022, a sum of $1,136 million was disbursed by homeowners insurers for liability claims tied to dog bites and assorted dog-related injuries.
  • A slight dip of 1.1% was observed in the average cost per dog bite claim in 2021, standing at $49,025 compared to $50,245 in 2020; notwithstanding, a 39% uptick in the average cost per claim was noted over the last decade.

Sources: Insurance Information Institute, Dogs Bite

Alternative Coverage Options if You Have a Pet

There are alternative coverage options available if you have a pet; these offer a more tailored approach to managing the financial risks associated with pet ownership. While homeowners insurance provides some level of coverage for pet-related incidents, these alternative options ensure more comprehensive protection. Below are several coverage alternatives that cater to the unique needs and circumstances of pet owners:

  • Pet Liability Insurance: Provides coverage for legal liabilities in case your pet injures someone or causes property damage.
  • Umbrella Insurance: Extends beyond homeowners insurance to cover liabilities, potentially including those arising from pet ownership.

Tips for Dog Owners to Prevent Dog Bites

Being a responsible dog owner entails proactive measures to prevent potential dog bites, ensuring the safety of both individuals and other animals. The following tips provide pragmatic steps to foster a safe environment and reduce the likelihood of unfortunate incidents:


Proper Training

Invest time in training your dog to obey commands and behave well around others.



Expose your dog to various people and settings to enhance their social skills.


Leash Discipline

Always have your dog on a leash in public places to maintain control.


Avoid Provocation

Keep your dog away from situations that may provoke aggressive behavior.


Health Check-Ups

Regular vet visits to check on your dog's health can prevent discomfort that might lead to aggression.



Always supervise interactions between your dog and unfamiliar individuals, especially children.


Use Muzzles if Necessary

If your dog has aggressive tendencies, using a muzzle can prevent bites.

About Mark Fitzpatrick

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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.