If you have a dog, you’ve likely wondered at one point or another, “what will happen if my dog bites someone, hurts another dog, or damages someone’s property? Will my insurance cover the damage?” After all, dogs are animals, and it’s impossible to predict or control their actions all the time — even when they’ve had the best training. We’ve got the answers to your questions.
If my dog bites someone or damages their property, will my insurance cover it?
Yes — your home, tenant, or condo insurance policy will likely have you covered if your dog bites someone, hurts another dog, or damages someone else’s property. These policies generally include third-party liability coverage, which protects you in the event that you’re held legally responsible for an injury or damage to someone else’s property. This coverage extends to your dog, too — whether you’re at home or on the go. So if your dog bites someone or damages their property, your insurer will cover injuries or damages if you’re liable for the incident or pay to defend you if you’re not, no matter where you are when the incident occurs.
Note: Depending on where you live, there are three basic ways responsibility for a dog bite is determined. Liability will either rest on the dog’s owner (no matter whose care the dog was in at the time), on the person who was caring for the dog at the time (like a dog walker, for example), or on both of them.
Exceptions for high-risk dogs
Depending on your insurer and your policy, there may be some cases where dog bites aren’t covered — if your dog has a history of biting or is categorized as a “high-risk” breed, for example. Every insurer has its own rules (and some don’t list exceptions like these at all), so you should always contact your insurance company if your dog bites someone.
What should I do if my dog bites someone or damages their property?
If your dog bites someone or damages their property, you should report it to your home insurance company right away — even if you’re not sure whether or not you’ll need to make a claim. Sometimes with a dog bite, you may not know until a little while later that you’re going to need help from your insurer. For example, if the person who your dog bites says not to worry about it but ends up needing treatment later, you may end up having to submit a claim. It’s a good idea to make sure your insurance company knows about a potential claim as soon as the related incident happens.
Getting a dog can be one of the most exciting times in your life, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. While you can’t always prevent your pup from acting out, proper socialization and training can help make sure they’re comfortable interacting with other dogs and people. If you have any questions about how your own insurance policy would respond in the event that your dog causes an injury or damage to someone else’s belongings, contact your licensed home insurance broker.
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