What State Farm And Other Insurers Do When Your Pet Makes A Costly Mistake
Does your homeowners or renters insurance cover the damage your pet does?
Imagine your doorbell rings and it’s that cute little 5th grade girl from down the street delivering the frozen pizzas you ordered from her for her school fundraiser. You open the door and your normally well-behaved dog wants to greet her, but smelling that pepperoni, he gets a little too friendly, and in his exuberance to become her new best friend, he jumps up and accidentally knocks her off the porch. And she’s injured.
Or your next door neighbor calls to tell you that your cat crawled in their basement window and shredded a sofa they were storing there. He is not pleased.
We expect that our pets may cause minor damage now and then in our own home, but sometimes our pets wreak havoc on a neighbor’s property – or a neighbor and we’re not always prepared to deal with that.
Insurance policies vary, and often there are not hard and fast rules about pets, but many homeowner policies provide some coverage for liabilities arising from your pet’s actions.
One of the most costly things your dog can do, and the most common, is to bite someone. Because dog bites are more common than you may imagine, some insurance companies have become more leery of insuring some breeds of dogs who have garnered a bad reputation for biting. Some insurance companies will exclude certain breeds from their policies while others may consider the nature of the individual dog, regardless of breed, if permitted under the state and local laws. So, if you have a breed you suspect may be on your insurance company’s blacklist, find out for sure – you may want to sniff around for another insurance company.
State Farm’s View of Pet Damages
Jeff McCollum, spokesperson for State Farm Insurance (which does not exclude by breed) says that some dog owners fear that they will be dropped from their policy if their dog injures someone. “We don’t do that.”McCollum says, “We check out the circumstances. If you’ve had your dog for several years and one day he bites a kid, we will look into why it happened. If the child was playing in the dog’s food dish, that’s a reasonable explanation.” That doesn’t mean it’s a bad dog or you’re a bad owner. Typically, State Farm would cover the medical expenses, and even legal fees, if it came to that, and would not drop the policy.
Fortunately, McCollum says, the damage a pet can cause a neighbor’s property is usually pretty minor, and the costs are often less than the policy deductible. But if your neighbor really gets into a snit about it, and wants more than repairs, you have your insurance to help you cover the expenses.