As of 2022, it’s estimated that about 67% of Americans own a pet. If you’re one of those 67%, you may have heard of pet liability insurance, pet insurance, pet renters insurance, and renters insurance with pet coverage. But what are they, and how are they different? More importantly, do you need any of these insurance plans, even if you’re only renting?
Pet liability insurance for renters is especially important because you live in close quarters. That means that your pet is more likely to have a run-in with a neighbor and there is an increased risk of your pet causing damage to a rental property. Renters insurance with pet liability coverage can protect you from having to pay for damage that your pet causes, such as your dog chewing up the carpet in your rental property.
Do you need pet liability insurance
Pet liability insurance can be helpful for a number of renters, especially if you have a dog whose breed is on your insurance’s restricted breed list. While an apartment building may reject your application if you don’t have pet liability insurance, they may be more likely to accept your application if you do. Although it doesn’t guarantee an apartment approval, having pet liability insurance can make you look like a more responsible tenant if you’re renting with a pet.
What pet liability insurance covers
An independent pet liability insurance plan will cover basically the same things as renters insurance with pet coverage. That is, pet liability insurance will help you out if your pet destroys someone else’s property or causes harm to someone else. Pet liability insurance typically helps pay for legal fees, repair costs, and medical bills, including mental health bills.
For example, if you leave town for a few weeks and leave your friendly feline with a trusty pet sitter at your apartment. At some point your cat scratches your pet sitter, which later the scratch gets infected. In this case, pet liability insurance would most likely cover your pet sitter’s medical bills, as well as any legal fees if your pet sitter decides to sue. Also, if your cat decided to rip up your pet sitter’s expensive scarf, pet liability insurance may help to replace it.
Pet liability insurance can pay up to 70-90% of the cost associated with any pet damage, so it can save you a lot of money.
What pet liability insurance for renters doesn’t cover
Like pet renters insurance, pet liability insurance doesn’t cover damage to yourself, anyone in your household, or any of your property. So, if a landscaper just worked on your front yard and your dog tears it up, unfortunately, you’ll have to pay to have it redone. Or, if your cat tears up the beautiful catio you just built, you’ll have to pay to replace it.
There are some instances where your renters insurance won’t cover damaged caused by your pet, such as destroying your neighbor’s screen door. Be sure to read your insurance policy thoroughly to fully understand when and when you are not covered.
The pets listed below are also often excluded (but not always) from pet liability insurance for renters:
- Exotic pets such as birds, ferrets, fish, lizards, rabbits, snakes, etc.
- Certain dog breeds or dogs mixed with these breeds: Akita, Boxer, Chow Chow, Doberman, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Husky, Malamute, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Rottweilers, Saint Bernard, Staffordshire terriers and other pitbull breeds, Wolf hybrids, among others.
- Pets over a set weight limit
- Dogs with a history of biting
Does renters insurance cover pets?
Most renters insurance policies cover personal property, liability, and additional living expenses. Your average renters insurance plan does not typically cover damage your pet causes to you, your roommate, your family, or any of your personal property. Pet damage to your apartment may sound like damage to “personal property,” but most insurance carriers only cover destruction caused by certain circumstances (called covered perils) when it comes to personal property. Pets aren’t usually considered a covered peril, whereas earthquakes and fires usually are.
Renters insurance with pet coverage will usually cover (but not always) is damage your pet caused to others and their property. Keep reading to find out how to add pet coverage to your policy and what it can do for you.
How to add your pet to your renters insurance
If your renters insurance policy doesn’t include pet coverage, you may be able to add it on. Usually, adding your pet to renters insurance is simple, especially if your insurance company offers it as an additional service. Most companies allow you to edit your coverage online, so you can just log in and request to add pet liability coverage, or call and speak with an insurance representative.
Does renters insurance cover pet damage?
Renters insurance that includes pet coverage typically covers pet damage in the following cases:
- Bodily injury: If your pet injures someone not in your household by biting, clawing, gnawing, scratching, etc.
- Liability: If your pet causes damage to someone else’s property
Most insurance policies automatically cover up to $100,000 in medical bills, legal fees, lost wages, or other costs associated with your pet’s damage. While $100,000 sounds like a lot of coverage, you may want to add extra coverage to your plan if you have a pet with a history of aggressiveness, or anything else where medical and legal fees could stack up.
What to do if your renters insurance does not cover pets
If you don’t have pet liability insurance for renters, or your plan doesn’t provide as much coverage as you want, you have a few other options.
Probably the easiest option is to get is what’s called an umbrella policy. Basically, an umbrella policy covers what’s already covered in your regular renters insurance policy up to a higher amount. While your renters insurance may only cover $100,000 in damages, an umbrella policy can cover up to $1 million or more.
But how much does an umbrella insurance policy cost? Probably a few hundred dollars. In fact, the average cost for an umbrella policy is only $150-$350 every year. You can choose how much coverage to add, usually in increments of $1 million. Plans that cover $2 or $3 million will cost more than a plan that only covers $1 million in damages.
Personal liability insurance
Some renters insurance companies don’t offer an umbrella policy option. In that case, you may want to consider getting personal liability insurance in order to cover your pet. These policies take care of legal, medical, and repair costs if you or someone in your household, like your pet, causes damage to someone else or their property. So, if your renters insurance doesn’t provide pet coverage, a personal liability policy could be a great substitute.
Personal liability insurance usually costs less than other policy options because it picks up wherever your renters insurance leaves off. Plans typically cover $100,000 in damages at a minimum, and you can add on coverage up to $500,000. Most plans cost $8-$10 for every $100,000 in coverage. So, even if you want $500,000 in coverage, you may only have to pay $50 per year.
One downside of personal liability insurance is that it often doesn’t cover specific dog breeds. In other words, this insurance option may not be the one for you if your dog’s breed falls on this list.
Pet liability insurance
Pet liability insurance is probably the best option, if your insurance excludes your breed of pet. In other words, if you have an exotic animal like a snake or dog who’s breed is typically not covered by other insurance options, like a husky, pet liability insurance may be the only plan that will cover your cuddly companion.
How much does pet liability insurance cost
The cost of pet liability insurance varies a lot, depending on the pet you want to cover. Usually, plans cost around $100-$1,000 per year, although the cost depends on the kind of pet you have and their history.
The most important thing to remember about pet liability insurance is to do your research. Every plan covers different things and costs a different amount. And it’s on you to decide what kind of coverage you need and how much you can afford.
What is the difference between pet insurance and pet liability insurance?
Pet insurance and pet liability insurance sound so similar that you may think they’re the same thing. However, pet insurance and pet liability insurance are totally different.
Pet Insurance: If your pet eats a plant that isn’t a pet-safe plant, and you need to rush them to the vet, pet insurance may be able to help you with that bill.
Pet Liability Insurance: covers damage to others, their property, or your property caused by your pet. A big difference between pet insurance and pet liability insurance is the cost. You’ll usually pay $20-$50 per year for pet insurance on average, while you’ll probably pay at least $100 per year for pet liability insurance.
Is pet liability insurance right for you
Depending on your pet, you can choose between renters insurance, an umbrella policy, a personal liability policy, and a pet liability policy, or a combination of policies, to protect yourself and your pet. Generally, anyone with a pet should have some form of pet liability insurance. And those with exotic pets or certain dog breeds may need extra pet liability insurance.
Renting with pets isn’t easy, especially if renters insurance doesn’t cover your particular pet. Having proper insurance can make renting with pets a little simpler because you can worry a little less about any damage your pet causes to others or their property.