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Renters Insurance Policy 101 for Pet Owners

Owning renters insurance coverage is important if you’re a tenant, because of the protection you receive. If someone were to bring a liability lawsuit against you, accusing you of being negligent at your apartment and causing them injuries, the renter’s insurance company would represent you and pay out any settlement or damages. Certain pet owners, such as dog owners, need special protection because of the risk of your dog biting a child or adult. All pet owners can benefit from having renters insurance.

Automatic Coverage
When you purchase a renters insurance policy, it may include liability coverage for pet owners. The typical amount, though you’re free to buy more, is $100,000. However, this coverage may or may not apply to you if you’re a dog owner. The insurance industry views owning a dog as a tenant as too risky. Companies fear that your dog is sure to bite, and that they’ll end up paying out monies on your behalf, more than other tenants who buy insurance. When you compare insurance quotes, ask specifically about ownership of pets, and what if any kind they exclude. Many other kinds of pets bite, or cause accidents at the apartment. For example, if your cat appears out of nowhere and trips up a guest, that person might sue for medical bills if they suffer injuries.

Dog Owner Exclusion
If you decide to buy a renters insurance policy that will not cover certain pets, often dogs, then you’ll receive forms to sign. These forms state that any dogs you own are excluded from the policy. If someone sues you for a dog bite, for instance, you agree by signing the forms that you don’t expect the insurance company to provide legal representation or pay damages on your behalf. The risk of dog ownership rests on you, and the person suing will look to your personal assets, such as bank accounts, your car and other valuables that you own.

Damage to Rental Units
Most pets will cause some damage to the rental unit during a rental period. Some require minor repairs that you can take care of yourself, such as urine on carpets and walls. However, some require major repairs, and your landlord will apply your pet security deposit and your security deposit toward it. There are occasions when your deposit is not sufficient to cover the damages, and you’ll need a renter’s insurance policy to pay for damages. You can buy renters insurance for those instances as well, but you may have to pay a little more. The overall costs of renters insurance are low compared to other forms of insurance though, so it may be affordable.

Pet Health and Accidents
A renter’s insurance policy may also cover the health of your pets, and accidents that injure them. For example, if your pet swallows something and needs medical attention, your renter’s insurance policy will cover veterinary bills and recovery, up to your coverage amount. The extent of coverage you want is up to you and what you’re willing to buy. Discuss in detail with any insurance agents you talk to.
Whether you lose your belongings due to theft or a weather related catastrophe, a renter’s insurance policy will pay you the costs to replace the items stolen or ruined. As a pet owner, you’ll also have protection for your pet’s health and protection for any injuries they cause others.

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.

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