Renter Insurance for Pets: Protecting Your Home and Furry Friends
Your pet is perfect in your eyes. Harm someone or damage property? He could never.
Life can be unexpected, though. If something outside of your control were to happen and your pet was liable, you could face a liability claim cost as high as $78,818. A liability insurance policy would help shield you from the burden of paying such a fee in full.
It can be hard to know where to start when looking for renters insurance that covers pets. Here, we'll discuss your pet liability insurance options as a renter, what's covered and what isn't, the cost of insurance, and more.
Does renters insurance cover pets?
Renters insurance, though not legally required, is strongly recommended. Furthermore, landlords can require you to have it -- and many do. In the event of an accident or disaster, such as a fire, flood, or collapse, renters insurance covers your belongings, liability (should you get sued for something that happened on your property), and additional living expenses (e.g., loss of use of rental forcing you to rent a hotel room). Without it, you have no way of getting back the money lost from the damage to your personal property or the cost of finding temporary alternative housing should an unexpected tragedy occur.
When it comes to pets, renters insurance generally does cover them. Your policy usually protects your furry companions, considering them the renter’s property. Not all insurance policies are created equal, though -- to ensure that your policy will adequately cover your pet, you do need to inform your insurance company in advance that you’re a pet owner, as not all policies automatically include pet liability insurance. As you might imagine, this policy coverage has nuances and limitations to consider, which we’ll cover in depth below.
Does renters insurance cover pet damage to a property?
For pets and people alike, accidents happen. Though having a well-trained pet can help mitigate the potential damage to your home and those who come in contact with your dog, pet-related damages will inevitably happen at one point or another.
Generally speaking, pet-related property damage is not covered by renters insurance. This is because renters insurance protects your personal property, not your rental unit. This means that if your pet scratches up your floors or creates holes in your walls, you’ll have to pay to get the damages fixed out of your pocket. As a result, many landlords opt to charge a pet fee or prohibit pets entirely to mitigate the risk of damage to their property.
If renters insurance doesn’t cover property damage caused by pets, you may wonder: What does it cover? We’ll get into that below.
What is covered under renters insurance with pet coverage?
Because insurance companies consider pets as the insurance policy holder's property, pets have some protections under renters insurance with pet coverage. Renters insurance typically includes the following aspects:
- Personal property coverage: Considered the primary component of renters insurance, property damage coverage covers your personal belongings if they are damaged or destroyed by covered perils, such as fire, theft, or vandalism. Your personal property coverage generally extends to your pet-related items like pet beds, toys, crates, and food.
- Liability coverage: Renters insurance includes pet liability coverage, which is imperative for pet owners. If your pet injures someone or causes property damage to someone else's home, your renters' insurance can help cover the associated medical expenses, legal fees, or repair costs. For example, if your dog bites a neighbor or your cat damages a friend's couch, and you face a lawsuit as a result, your liability coverage can help to lighten the financial load.
- Medical payments to others: Renters insurance may also include a component that helps pay for medical payments for others. If someone is injured on your rental property, your insurance can cover their medical expenses, even if the injury isn’t a result of your pet's actions.
Renters insurance vs. pet insurance
In the search for what kind of renters insurance coverage is right for you, you'll want to make sure you know the difference between renters insurance with pet coverage and pet coverage:
- Renters insurance covers the costs of pet damage to someone else and the costs associated with medical bills or legal issues caused by your pet.
- Pet insurance serves as health insurance for your animal, helping to cover any of their veterinary fees should they fall ill, get hurt, or face other health issues.
In summary, renters insurance insures things associated with the pet, and pet insurance insures the pet itself. Your average renters' insurance plan most likely doesn't cover damage your pet causes to you, your roommate, your family, and friends, or any of your personal property.
While we certainly recommend renters insurance, whether or not to get pet insurance is a personal choice. Weigh the cost of pet insurance, which tends to run about $44 per month for dogs and $30 per month for cats, against the potential veterinarian costs to determine whether pet insurance would be worthwhile.
Benefits of renters insurance with pet coverage
Now, we know that renters insurance isn't required across the board. If your landlord does not mandate it, you might have uncertainties about whether to bother getting it. For pet owners, there are several reasons renters insurance that covers pets is worth the bother:
- Peace of mind: While you might keep your place as safe and secure as possible, some elements of life, such as fires or floods, are outside your control. Renters insurance offers peace of mind, knowing that your personal property is protected should you face unexpected circumstances. This applies not only to your furniture and electronics and to your pet-related belongings, like pet beds, toys, and food.
- Liability protection: As previously mentioned, renters insurance includes liability coverage. This means that, as perfect as we know your furry (or scaly) little friend is, your policy can help cover the associated medical expenses or legal costs if they accidentally hurt someone.
- Temporary living expenses: If your rental unit becomes uninhabitable due to a covered incident, renters insurance may cover additional living expenses. This means you can find a pet-friendly place for you and your animal to stay temporarily without shelling out a ton of cash.
While you might not see the value in having renters insurance that covers pet damage when you first move into your new place, you can't predict the future. As the saying goes -- it's better to be safe than sorry.
When it comes to coverage for pets, consider your specific needs. You have a few coverage options you can choose from, and it's essential to shop around to make sure you get the insurance policy that works best for you. Your options for renters insurance with pet coverage include:
Standard renters insurance policy
Traditional renters insurance does often extend to cover liability claims for your pet. However, you'll need to talk to renters insurance companies about pet coverage to confirm this, as some may flat-out deny pet liability coverage due to a dog's breed or history with liability issues. Other companies might charge extra for animal liability coverage. Get quotes from a couple of companies before deciding to ensure your pet will be covered at a reasonable price.
Pet liability insurance policy
Sometimes, basic coverage just won't cut it. If your dog belongs to one of the dog breeds that your standard renters insurance won't cover or is considered high-risk due to biting or injuring others in the past, pet liability insurance can help.
This type of insurance is a separate pet liability insurance policy meant to fill any gaps left by your renters' insurance plan. In the case of a pet-related incident, just like with regular insurance, this policy will help with the cost of any liability-related fees.
Dogs or other pets with especially checkered pasts may be excluded entirely from pet liability insurance coverage, so discuss your pet's specific situation with your insurance company.
Naturally, you'll need to factor in the pet liability insurance cost to your living expenses if you decide to go down this route, so find a renters insurance plan with pet coverage whenever possible.
Umbrella insurance policy
Similar to pet liability policies, umbrella insurance policies provide supplemental coverage to a regular renters insurance policy. If you're worried that your renters' insurance coverage limits won't suffice. In that case, umbrella insurance coverage will help cover the remaining costs of a liability claim after you've maxed out your regular coverage limit.
Now, let's talk about the cost of renters insurance for pet owners. The price of your policy can vary depending on several factors:
- Location: The cost of renters insurance can differ significantly based on where you live. Urban areas may have higher premiums due to increased risks.
- Type of pet: Certain breeds and types of pets may lead to higher premiums. Insurance companies assess risk; some pets are considered higher risk due to their size or breed.
- Coverage limits: The higher the limits, the more you'll pay for your policy. It's important to find a balance between adequate coverage and affordability.
On average, renters insurance costs $173 a year, or about $14 a month, for $15,000 worth of personal property coverage. People tend to undervalue their belongings' total cost, so make sure your coverage is sufficiently high.
Additionally, your renters' insurance policy should have a liability coverage limit of about $100,000, with the option to purchase more if you'd like. Given that the average cost of a dog bite claim in 2022 was $64,555, you may consider purchasing additional liability coverage.
Which pets aren't covered?
Unfortunately, insurance providers might refuse to cover certain animals, such as exotic pets. Specific dog breeds such as pit bulls, rottweilers, great danes, and more might not receive coverage under an insurance provider.
Renters liability insurance with pet coverage in review
As a renter and pet owner, you want to protect your belongings and furry friends in case of unfortunate circumstances. Luckily, you have several liability insurance options at your disposal. Shop around between insurance providers and potential policies to ensure you're getting the best for you and your pet.