Does your homeowners insurance cover dog bites?


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If you own a dog, you should know that you’re responsible for any harm it causes to others, such as from biting someone. Most home insurance policies cover any costs that come with a dog bite incident. Below, we’ll dive deeper into when and how your home insurance can help you if your dog bites someone.

When does home insurance cover dog bites?

Your home insurance may pay for dog bites and the expenses that come with them in a number of situations, including the following:

When your dog bites a guest

If you invite a guest to your house and your dog bites them, your homeowners insurance policy may cover the incident, depending on the liability coverage included in your policy. Your personal liability coverage can cover for injuries and potential lawsuits, while your medical payments coverage can cover any medical expenses for treatment of the bite.

When your dog bites someone away from your home

Home insurance typically covers dog bites that occur off your premises as well. This means if you’re on a neighborhood walk or at the park and your dog bites someone, you may still be covered. Note that some policies won’t cover incidents that happen off your property. Make sure you check your policy’s details.

When your dog damages someone else’s property

Homeowners insurance can also pay for property damage that your dog causes. If you take your dog to your neighbor’s house and it chews up their new furniture, liability coverage may cover the damage. Every policy differs slightly, so make sure you understand your policy thoroughly before bringing your dog out in public.

When does home insurance not cover dog bites?

Home insurance doesn’t always cover dog bites. Make sure you understand your policy so you aren’t left uncovered in the event of an incident. Here are a few scenarios where homeowners insurance may not cover a dog bite.

Your home insurance company excludes your dog breed

Some dog breeds have a reputation for being aggressive, and your home insurance company may refuse to cover these breeds due to the perceived risk of a bite occurring. Breeds that are often excluded from coverage include pit bulls, rottweilers, Siberian huskies, and chow chows. If you find that your home insurer won’t cover your dog breed, you may want to seek dog bite insurance elsewhere.

Your home insurance provider won’t cover injuries to household members

Your home insurance might not cover injuries to household members, only injuries to guests and family members who don’t belong to your household. If your dog bites your child who lives with you, you may be responsible for the medical bills and have to pay for them through your health insurance policy.

Your policy specifically excludes all dog bites

When you first purchased your home insurance, you might have agreed to exclude coverage for dog bites and other pet-related injuries. If you don’t remember, check the fine print of your home insurance. And if you’re purchasing a new policy, take the time to fully understand the extent of coverage you’ll receive should your dog bite someone.

Your dog bites someone in a business setting

If you run a dog-grooming business or another type of business out of your home, and your dog bites someone, your home insurance policy likely won’t cover it. You might have to turn to your business insurance instead.

How to file a dog bite claim

Dog bite claims are quite common. In fact, dog bite claims cost home insurance companies in the U.S. $882 million in 2021.[3] If you need to file a claim, either submit a claim online or call your insurer to begin the process. Be prepared to state personal information like your name, date of birth, and policy number.

You’ll also need to share the date and location of the dog bite, as well as any photo or video evidence that supports your claim. Once you submit your claim, an insurance claims adjuster may step in to evaluate the situation and determine whether to approve your request for coverage.

Ideally, your home insurance company will approve your claim. But if your insurer denies your claim, you can likely appeal the decision. You can file an appeal on your own or work with an attorney.

How to renew your policy after a dog bite claim

If your dog bites someone, your provider might make some changes to your policy to account for the increased risk. This might include charging higher premiums or even excluding your dog from coverage.

If your home insurance company decides not to renew your policy, you’ll have to shop around and find coverage elsewhere. Fortunately, you can find many providers that may extend coverage to you, though your rates may still be increased due to previous incidents.

Dog bite FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about dog bites and homeowners insurance.

  • What do you do if you get bitten by a dog?

If a dog bites you, identify the dog and the owner and document your injuries. Then, wash the wound with mild soap and warm tap water. Use a clean cloth or gauze and apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Next, visit the doctor, even if you think you’re fine. Lastly, speak to the owner to find out whether their homeowner’s policy will cover your expenses.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites to other dogs?

Yes, homeowners insurance may apply if your dog bites another dog that doesn’t live with you. Check the specifics of your policy to see if it will cover vet bills and other related costs if your dog injures someone else’s dog. Most policies cover these types of events, as long as you’re legally responsible for the incident.

  • Do certain dog breeds raise your insurance premium?

Some dog breeds are perceived to be more prone to biting than others. As a result, you may pay a higher premium if you own a dog like a pit bull, rottweiler, or Siberian husky. In some cases, home insurance companies will place these breeds on a restricted dog list and won’t cover their bites at all.

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The best cities for renters with a big dog


Finding a rental that accepts your kind of pet is no picnic. With rental prices rising by up to 40% and a fur-baby boom of 23 million pandemic pets, Americans face a reduced pool of homes from which to choose. And many have become all too familiar with the sinking feeling of following a ‘Pet Friendly’ lead only to find that their large dog does not fit the landlord’s definition of an acceptable furry friend.


Some online real estate platforms such as Zillow make the process a bit easier by allowing users to conduct an advanced search. Here you can specify a letting that allows cats, small dogs, or larger hounds as individual categories (although landlords may have their own idea exactly how many pounds makes a large dog).


To give you a clearer idea of the pet-friendly landscape, the home warranty company American Home Shield analyzed Zillow listings and identified the cities and states with the most rentals that accept large dogs.

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  • North Carolina is the most dog-friendly state with 77.6% of rentals allowing small dogs and 58.6% allowing large dogs.
  • Cat owners should head to Georgia where 70.7% of rentals allow cats, the largest share of any state.
  • The most dog-friendly city – for both small and large dogs – is North Las Vegas.
  • There are only 15 states where the share of rentals allowing cats outweighs the share allowing dogs.

Here are America’s most large-dog-friendly cities for renters.


Related: America’s favorite dog breeds: #22 is the cutest



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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 48%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 49%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 50%




Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 51%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 51%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 54%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 54%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 54%


Related: Fluffy puppy goofballs to get you through your day


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 60%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 60%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 66%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 67%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 71%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 74%


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Percentage of large-dog friendly apartments: 75%


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If you catch your pet dog sniffing at a North Carolina landlord, it’s probably because they have a treat in their pocket. North Carolina landlords are the most dog-friendly, coming out on top for allowing both large and small category dogs to reside in their properties. By contrast, the state is ranked only #16 for cat friendliness. North Carolina is very much a dog state, with two-fifths (41.3%) of households boasting a canine, against just a quarter (26.5%) with cats, according to the World Population Review.


Arkansas and Missouri climb into the top ten when tolerance towards small dogs, rather than large ones, is considered. In fact, you’re twice as likely to find an Arkansas landlord to accept your small dog (69.1%) than one who’ll allow a whopper (35%). This is an issue for Arkansans, who consider the mid-large Labrador and German shepherd the best dogs to own.


Georgia ranks #1 for cat-friendly landlords, #2 for large dogs, and #3 for small dogs. Of course, it depends on the cat – an African wildcat escaped an Atlanta home last year, making its way into a neighbor’s bed, where it was most unwelcome. The cat was later confiscated from its owner due to Georgia law rather than landlord unfriendliness (monkeys, elephants, hawks, crocodiles, piranhas, and cobras are also off-limits in Georgia).


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Next, we identified the ten cities that are most lenient towards large dogs, little dogs, and cats, respectively. Between 73-85% of landlords in these top cities allow cats and small dogs, but the figure drops very sharply for large dogs. Large dogs in #10 city Aurora are one-third less likely to be permitted than those in #1, North Las Vegas.


The big dog top ten is dominated by Texas and North Carolina cities. Not only is Plano, TX, the second easiest place to rent with a large dog, but it has residential complexes with fully equipped dog parks and even a dog-friendly cinema with a canine-themed program. Clearly, Plano is the place to go if your large dog enjoys the comforts of home and an active cultural life.

North Las Vegas, NV, is the number one city for both small and large dogs to rent.


It’s also #2 for cats. In the city of North Las Vegas, unlike much of the surrounding Clark County, pet owners are themselves required to own a license – raising the likelihood that their pets will be responsible tenants. Plus, there is a city limit of three dogs or cats (or ferrets) at any North Las Vegas address. For pot-bellied pigs, the legal limit is two.


Three cities enter the top ten when we switch from small dogs to cats: Madison (WI), San Antonio (TX), and Kansas City (MO) are significantly friendlier towards cats than cat-sized dogs. However, Madison’s dog people appear to be more responsible pet owners, with an estimated 30% of the city’s dogs having the right legal papers, compared to just 3% of local cats. Cat ownership is a controversial political issue in Madison, where officials suggest your cat should be subject to the same control outside the house like a pet dog – including cleaning up their poop and not allowing them beyond your home’s perimeter out of your control.


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Let’s face it, your decision to home a cat or dog is down to the gut preferences of two people: you and your landlord. For your ease of reference, we have mapped the states and ranked the top cities where landlords are most tolerant of one critter or the other.


Landlords in states towards the north-east are most tolerant towards cats, while the rest of the US is friendlier to dogs. This region has long been associated with higher rates of cat ownership. Potential reasons include denser urban living, less domestic space for dogs, and a lifestyle/landscape that is less conducive to dog-walking. Thankfully for cat-owning renters in the region, landlords have their back.


The ratio of dog-friendly to cat-friendly landlords is largest in San Jose, at around 84:16. In other words, your dog is more than five times as likely to be accepted in a San Jose home. San Jose is well-served with parks, woods, and open wilderness to exercise your dog – reducing the chance that they’ll scratch the furniture or cause other damage from boredom or an excess of energy at home.



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Whether you’re a landlord or a potential tenant, choosing whether dogs or cats are suitable for your home requires thought and sensitivity.


A bored or poorly trained dog may chew things up, bark loudly, or leave yellow patches on the lawn. On the other hand, the right dog for the space will make it feel like home and improve the family-friendly profile of the area.


A cat’s litter box can leave a lasting smell in a property. With twice as many people suffering from cat allergies, the cat’s lingering memory may spook later potential renters. Bored cats can be just as destructive as dogs when they put their mind to it – but on the whole, they make a more laidback roomie or tenant.


As a landlord, then, you’ll need to tailor your pet policy to suit the size and scope of your apartment without excluding too many local pet owners. As a tenant, consider your lifestyle and present space before welcoming a pet into your life. Are you likely to move frequently in the next decade? If so, hold off on buying that quadruped – a furry pet may lead to heartache every time you come to relocate.


To determine the cities and states with the most pet-friendly homes, we calculated the percentage of Zillow rental listings that allow big dogs, small dogs, and cats in the 100 largest U.S. cities and all 50 states.


The percentage of rentals that allow each type of pet was calculated as a share of all rentals listed on Zillow. Data on the ratio of cat-friendly rentals to dog-friendly rentals was calculated using the number of rentals that allow cats and the number of rentals that allow small dogs as numerators, and the total number of rentals that allow either cats or small dogs as the denominator.

The data was collected in February 2022.



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