Does My Home Owners’ Insurance Policy Cover My Dog?
The short answer is yes- probably, but it depends. Your homeowner’s insurance likely covers liability for all damages caused by your dog. So there is no need to ad insult to injury by being a jerk to your neighbor after your dog bites them. Instead, take the responsibility that is yours under Utah law and don’t worry- your insurance will cover everything. This is why you pay for insurance- in case something goes wrong.
Insurance is extremely important. You should always have a detailed conversation with a good insurance agent prior to choosing your insurance plan. Homeowners insurance and renters insurance are not exceptions to that rule. These policies will cover costly damage to your property; they will also usually cover theft of items that were stored in your insured property. An overlooked aspect of these types of insurance policies is the liability portion of the policy. Homeowners and renters alike have the ability to buy liability coverage so that they will be protected in the event that another person is hurt either on your property, or by your property. Homeowners insurance will always include some amount of liability coverage, but it is up to the consumer to educate himself or herself about the different amounts of liability coverage that can be purchased under their insurance policy. These liability policies will almost always include damages caused by the family pet such as a dog. Even where these types of damages are specially excluded, supplemental insurance can be purchased elsewhere. The great part for homeowners is that these policies that cover damage caused by your dog will also usually cover damage caused by your dog that does not even occur on your insured property.
There is a growing trend among homeowners insurance companies today to list dog bites as specific exclusions. Exclusions are things that are explicitly not covered by the insurance policy. It is of vital importance that you take the time to go over your exclusions with your insurance agent prior to choosing your homeowners insurance. If dog bites have been excluded, you should probably not own a dog. Dog bite laws can make claims extremely expensive and you will be left solely liable for any and all damages caused by your dog if dog bites are listed in the exclusion section of your policy. You should especially not purchase a Pit Bull or a Rottweiler if you find yourself in such a situation. Those breeds of dog can be particularly dangerous and therefore costly to you. In fact, these breeds of dog are so hazardous that many homeowners insurance policies will have breed-specific exclusions. Breed specific exclusions are exclusions of only certain dangerous breeds such as Pitt Bulls and Rottweilers. If you find yourself owning a dangerous dog, and your insurance company excludes your breed, there is yet another option to explore.
Today there are third party private insurance companies that are in the business of offering insurance specifically for pets. These types of policies can be purchased for only a few hundred dollars per year because they only apply to pets so the risk each year is minimal. They typically cover both injuries to your dog that require veterinary services as well as damage caused by your dog in the form of liability protection. That few hundred dollars per year can buy you several hundred thousand dollars worth of liability coverage. If you own a dangerous breed, I certainly recommend looking into one of these supplemental policies.
Many policies of both homeowners insurance and renters insurance have a liability limit of $100,000 in the State of Utah. That means that any damages over the first $100,000 will need to be paid by the homeowner. Insurance agents will advise you that if you own a medium or large sized dog, you should pay a little extra to up your liability limits to something more in the ballpark of $300,000. After all, what is the point of having insurance if it does not leave you feeling secure?
If you have been injured by a dog, contact a Utah Dog Bite Lawyer immediately. He or she can assist you in navigating through the treacherous claims process and can ensure that you will be fairly compensated for your loss.