If you are a dog owner, your dog is more than a pet. It is a family member. Owning a pet comes with the responsibility of viewing your pet as a potential liability exposure. As the owner, you are typically held liable for its actions.

We don’t want to think of our dog as a potential hazard, but dog related damage or injuries are one of the leading causes of homeowners, tenant or condo owners claims. It could be as simple as your dog harmlessly playing, digging or chewing a neighbor’s property as puppies do.

Typically these type policies cover liability but many carriers exclude Animal Liability, some carriers offer a limited coverage amount, and even others may have an Animal Liability buy-back, but it would be limited.

There are also types of dog breeds insurance carriers exclude from coverage. I have seen many variations of excluded dogs such as Akita, Chow, Doberman, Pit Bull, and Rottweiler. Even mix breeds of these types of dogs, might not be covered by insurance companies. This also includes undomesticated animals.

This does not strictly limit just these breeds. All carriers have different underwriting guidelines so you need to ask the questions. I have actually seen where an active or retired police or military German Shepard is not eligible.

Please remember an Animal Liability Exclusion Endorsement pertains to all animals, not just dogs.

When owning a dog there are some additional thoughts to consider:

  1. Will my policy cover medical expenses for an injury caused? Emergency room visit? Defense or lawsuit? If I want my own attorney the policy will not usually cover you or provide defense because the insurance carrier would provide defense according to your policy language with their in-house legal counsel.
  2. If your Homeowners, Condo or Tenant policy has an Animal Liability Exclusion Endorsement and the coverage for injury caused by your pet is very limited or does not exist at all.

We recently had a situation with a client who was a pet owner. They owned a Labradoodle. He was walking on the beach with his dog on a leash. A neighbor was also walking on the beach with his dog. The dogs were doing the doggie hello sniff-sniff and the other dog owner got caught in the leash and fell on his behind. He quickly got up and was not visibly hurt. Well about a week went by and here comes a letter from an attorney for injury caused in the fall.

These are the type of situations why carriers are either limiting coverage or not offering it at all for Animal Liability. Please ask your Independent Agent the proper questions pertaining to you and your coverage. Every state and carrier will have different options. One size does not fit all when it comes to Animal Liability.


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