Homeowner, Renter and Other Insurance

There are various types of insurance that might apply to a dog attack:

  • If you own a dog and either own or rent a home, your homeowner or renter insurance policy probably contains “personal liability coverage” (or something similarly worded). This feature normally protects you from having to pay damages to other people for most dog injury claims as well as many other claims, possibly including defamation, a trip-and-fall on your front steps, etc. This type of insurance is referred to as a “homeowners policy,” “renters policy” or “condo policy.” Each of these is a package insurance policy providing property and liability coverages tailored to the needs of most home owners, condominium owners, and apartment tenants. Various versions are available depending on the type of dwelling insured and the scope of protection to be covered. The different types of insurance for homeowners, condo owners and renters are explained at InvestorGuide.com, Different Types of Homeowner’s Insurance Policies (accessed 5/24/2013). The Insurance Information Institute has posted a sample homeowner policy (referred to as “HO3”) that provides the text of the most popular homeowner insurance. 
  • If your dog was in your car when the dog attacked a person, then your automobile policy probably covers the incident. 
  • If you have insurance for rental property, then it most likely covers you against claims for “landlord liability” or “landlord negligence” arising from a dog attack.
  • If your employee was injured on the job, your workers compensation insurance probably protects you. Make sure you talk to a workers compensation attorney if you are told otherwise, because “on the job” is defined very carefully.

The limit of coverage is stated in your policy declarations, which is the personalized page that lists your name and gives monetary information. 

The insurance also provides you with an attorney and pays all court costs if you are sued.

Your insurance policy also probably has “medical payments coverage” (or something similarly worded). This gives you further protection if your dog bites or injuries someone. It pays for that person’s medical bills up to a certain limit

Finally, your insurance policy also probably has “property damage coverage” (or something similarly worded). This provides additional coverage for torn clothing, broken glasses and other property damage losses sustained by the victim.

Insurance virtually never covers your liability for injuries that you intentionally cause to another person. However, dog attacks usually are unintentional. Even when they are suspected to be intentional, however, the attorney for the victim normally presents the claim in a manner that will trigger the dog owner’s insurance policy, which increases the victim’s chance of an insurance recovery.

For more information about renter’s insurance, see the list of topics in the second column of RentersInsurance.com. For information about insurance and the terminology used in insurance policies, see the website of The Insurance Information Institute.