How to Tell if Your Homeowners Insurance Covers Pets
For many people, pets are beloved family members who they want to protect and keep safe. Whether you are considering adding new pets or already have a full household of animals, it is important to consider how they may impact your homeowners insurance.
Pets and Your Family
The number of households in America that have pets continues to grow. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, an estimated 38.4% or 48,255,413 households in the U.S. have dogs, and 25.4% or 31,896,077 households have cats. Only 2.8% or 3,509,032 own birds, while 0.7% or 893,152 own horses. Other common pets include fish, ferrets, rabbits and reptiles.
Since pets become part of the family, it is crucial to consider how they fit into the household. They provide devotion, love and companionship for many people, so it is easy to see why most homes have at least one pet. However, they can also affect your insurance in different ways.
Pets and Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
The main reason why you need to think about your pets and homeowners insurance is because of liability coverage and risk factors. Your insurance company considers risks before offering you a policy and setting the price. If your pet is considered a high risk, you may need to have additional liability coverage, pay a higher rate or may have trouble obtaining insurance.
Your pets may be covered by a homeowners insurance policy, but it is important to check with your company to make sure. In general, your insurance will not cover damages inside the home caused by your pet, such as ruined carpets or torn drapes. However, it may cover legal or medical bills if your pet bites someone. Being honest with your insurance company is important because it can affect your coverage.
Understanding Liability Coverage
By understanding your liability coverage, you can figure out if your homeowners insurance policy will extend to your pets. Liability coverage refers to the part of your policy that goes into effect when you are responsible for damages that happen to another person or property. For example, if your pet attacks another person or destroys someone else’s property, you may be held responsible.
Usually, insurance companies consider pets that include dogs and cats under liability coverage. This means other pets, such as reptiles, may not be covered. You should check with your insurance agent to see if your animal is included.
If you have a dog that is considered an aggressive breed, some insurance companies will charge higher rates. In general, the average insurance premium difference for owning an aggressive breed is only 1%. Although the average difference is not high, your personal experience may vary.
Some insurance companies completely exclude aggressive breeds and exotic animals from liability coverage. They consider them to be too big of a risk and do not want to have any payment responsibility in case something goes wrong. Though it’s worth mentioning, it is possible to find companies that offer policies for specific breeds should there be any issue obtaining homeowner’s insurance. However, this depends largely on the place you live because some states forbid insurance companies from excluding specific breeds.
Some companies do offer policies for specific breeds, so be sure to inquire about breed specific policies when doing your research.
Your pet’s history can also play a role in insurance coverage. If your dog or cat has a history of biting others, then your company may decide not to extend liability coverage to them. You may be able to purchase supplementary animal liability coverage, but it can cost more.
What You Can Do
To reduce your risks and liability, you want to keep your pet as healthy as possible. From getting the necessary vaccines on time to seeing a veterinarian on a regular basis, you can take steps to make sure your beloved pet is in great shape. Keeping track of your pet’s medical records is also helpful in case any questions come up.
Other steps you can take to minimize the chance that your pet will hurt someone or damage their property include socializing your animal from an early age. You want to introduce your pet to other animals and humans. You want them to be comfortable around people and not aggressive.
In addition, you can sign up for training classes for pets to help them. You can find classes for puppies and adult dogs that teach them basic or advanced manners, impulse control and other exercises. Some teachers focus on relationship training to help you bond with the pet. Others focus on better communication between your pet and family.
The best way to figure out if your homeowners insurance policy covers your pets is to talk to your company. Call or email your insurance agent and ask them about your pets. You want to know ahead of time if your liability coverage includes your animals. You also want to be honest with your company about the type of pets you have and their history. They will discover the truth eventually, so it is better to be upfront.
-This blog was written and researched by our friends at The Zebra.