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Renters Insurance and Dog Bites: What You Need to Know

For many of us, dogs are more than our pets. They are our best friends and members of the family. However, owning a dog includes risks. There is a chance that your furry friend may cause property damage. There is also the possibility that even the most well-behaved dog could hurt another person. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself against damage or harm caused by your dog. Read on to learn more about renters insurance coverage of dog bite incidents and how having a policy can help you.

Renters Insurance Coverage of Dog Bites

Renters insurance is a type of home insurance that protects those who rent a home against theft, loss, and liability. It covers personal property and will pay to replace stolen, damaged, or destroyed items. Renters insurance shields you from personally paying a victim if an injury occurs in your rental home or apartment.

This coverage sometimes shields policy holders from injuries resulting from a dog bite within the rental. The personal liability section of renters insurance policies covers dog bites. Your personal exposure to damages resulting from a dog bite can be significant. Initial injuries from dog bites can be devastating. Even domestic breeds can disfigure, maim, or cause someone's death.

The extent of dog bite injuries is difficult to know based on the initial bite. Even what appears as minor injuries can lead to infection or nerve damage. That can result in extensive treatment, multiple surgeries, and high medical bills.

You can see why it's not uncommon for dog bites to result in personal injury lawsuits. Each state has its own laws about dog bite lawsuits. Some states hold dog owners strictly liable for dog bite injuries, regardless of the owner's level of fault. Others follow the one-bite rule that allows, with few exceptions, a dog the ability to bite once without penalty.

Does Your Policy Cover Your Type of Dog?

Only some types of renters insurance cover injuries due to dog bites. It's important to read your policy completely or ask your insurance agent. Some insurance companies exclude certain breeds of dogs from renter's insurance coverage. This includes traditionally larger animals including these breeds of dogs:

  • Pit bulls
  • Rottweilers
  • Dobermans
  • German Shepherds
  • Boxers
  • Mastiffs

If you own a larger dog, check that your insurance policy covers your best friend. If your renter's insurance policy excludes your dog, you may have to buy more insurance coverage. This can be from your existing insurance company or another company.

What Liability Insurance Is Available if My Policy Excludes My Dog?

One option to consider to protect you from injury claims is an umbrella policy from your existing insurance company. This is an optional policy that extends your liability coverage. An umbrella policy can cover unanticipated medical bills or litigation costs associated with a dog bite. These policies also cover you while you're at home, or in any other location. That means this policy protects against injuries that could occur while walking your dog, in a dog park, or when your dog runs away.

Another option is to buy animal liability insurance. This policy will cover your dog and any person you name as a handler. This can protect you from dog bite liability, even if your dog is one of the breeds excluded by other policies. These policies can also cover dogs that have a bite history. The downside is these policies have a higher premium than a homeowners insurance policy.

Pet insurance policies will not cover liability claims against your animal or legal expenses. These policies cover medical attention and veterinarian bills associated with your dog's health.

What Is the Difference Between an Insurance Claim and a Lawsuit?

Contacting an insurance company about a bodily injury, damage to personal belongings, or an incident starts a claim. An insurance claim is when a person files a complaint against a pet owner's renters policy. This is similar to a car accident where the driver or the victim calls the auto insurance company to report an accident. When it comes to animal liability cases, claims start when the victim or the pet owner calls the renters insurance company.

personal injury lawsuit starts when someone with a claim files a legal pleading, called a “petition," in a court. A victim of a dog attack may file a lawsuit for a few different reasons. The insurance company may not have offered liability limits of the liability policy. Sometimes the liability limits of the policy may not cover the medical costs of the victim, so the victim files a lawsuit. In some states, if a pet owner was keeping a dangerous dog, then a victim may be able to get excess damages above a renters insurance policy limit.

Have a Dog Bite Claim? Get Help from an Attorney Today

If a dog bites you or a loved one, then you understand how devastating these types of injuries can be. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. This could be against the owners of the dog or other responsible parties, like a landlord or a dog walker. A great first step is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer or an animal attack lawyer near you.

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