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Renter’s Insurance And Pets – Why Your Tenants Need It

December 4, 2022

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Why Your Tenant Pet Owners Need Renter’s Insurance

Renters insurance is a key protection against liability for landlords and tenants.  

However, it’s not just useful for those reasons. 

It’s also critical for tenants with pets

As a landlord, it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure tenants with pets obtain renter’s insurance that covers pet damage. 

Pets, no matter how well-behaved, are an inherent risk.  

You want tenants, if they have pets, to go out of their way to get renters insurance that covers their animal(s). 

Renter’s Insurance and Your Tenant’s Pet 

Personal property and personal liability are the two main kinds of renters insurance. The personal liability portion of renters insurance sometimes covers third-party damage or injury caused by your pet. Your tenant ensures this is the case with their policy, though, because policies and companies differ. If the policy does cover pets, then this means tenants have coverage if their pet hurts other people or damages others’ property.  

When your tenant purchases a renters insurance policy, they’ll have to decide on a liability coverage limit, and the responsibility for expenses above that limit will fall on them. 

Some examples of pet incidents typically covered by personal liability insurance include: 

  • Your tenant’s cat scratches a visitor, and they need medical treatment. 
  • Your tenant’s dog bites someone on the property, and they must go to the hospital. 
  • Your tenant’s pet damages a guest’s personal property, like having an accident on their phone. 

Most renter’s insurance policies cover $100,000 in personal liability, but people typically have the option to purchase additional coverage. The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends most renters purchase at least $300,000 worth of protection. 

Why it Matters 

Renters insurance that covers pets is vital in case of accidents or damage caused by pets. You should require your tenant to maintain coverage so that you can avoid as many unfortunate situations as possible. 

For instance, if your pet inflicts injury or damage on someone or they damage your property, whether inside or outside your residence, you will generally be protected under the liability coverage of the renter’s insurance policy. Liability coverage gives you financial protection against any costs associated with the incident, up to your policy’s limits. 

Here are two potential scenarios of damage or injury caused by pets and their liability insurance outcomes. 

In scenario number one, let’s say your tenant’s cat scratches a guest on the property, and it’s so severe that it sends the victim to the hospital. To pay for the hospital bill, the person files a claim through the insurance company. If your tenant is found liable, the insurance company will try to reach a settlement with the victim, who can file a lawsuit if they don’t believe the settlement is reasonable. Whether the case is settled out of court or taken before a judge, the associated fees will be covered under the liability insurance coverage policy.  

In scenario two, let’s say your tenant’s dog, while chasing your tenant’s pet bird, runs through the neighbor’s screen door. To pay for the damage, your neighbor files a claim through the insurance company. Although this is related to personal property rather than injury, the same insurance process will play out, and your insurance company will cover the costs if you’re found liable. 

According to the III, the average cost of a dog bite claim in America is almost $45,000, and extreme incidents can exceed this amount. This means that coverage is a great investment for everyone. No matter how docile or innocent a pet seems, you’re only one incident away from an awfully expensive issue if your tenant doesn’t have the proper liability insurance.  

In both cases exemplified, a lack of coverage is an obvious nightmare. A tenant without liability insurance can put you in an extremely bad position. So, make sure every tenant with a pet goes out of their way to get coverage for their pet. 

Dog Breed and Exotic Pets Restrictions 

Certain insurance providers may restrict liability coverage for specific dog breeds and exotic pets. While the debate continues on how ethical it is to treat certain dog breeds differently simply because of their breed, the reality is that some providers and states do just this.  

Additionally, exotic pets like reptiles, large cats, and other wild animals aren’t typically covered. This is why it’s critical to make sure your tenants do their research and understand their responsibility to obtain coverage that actually covers their pets. 

The Fine Print 

Many renters insurance policies cover basic pet liability. However, it’s crucial to read the policy thoroughly to understand what is covered. Many policies require riders or endorsements, which are addendums that add more extensive coverage, to get better coverage for dog bites or property damage against other people caused by your tenant’s pet. 

That leads us right into another key point: pet liability insurance only protects your tenant in the event their pet harms another person or another person’s property. It doesn’t protect your tenant or their fellow household members if the pet injures them. 

Conclusion 

It’s important to emphasize to your tenants that they need to do their research and ask questions. Your tenant is ultimately responsible for your pet. That being said, they’re bringing it onto your most valuable asset, so you want to do everything in your power to set them up for success.  

Renters insurance for pets isn’t an option; it’s a necessity. Life is unpredictable and so are pets, which means you want your tenants to do what they can to limit the possibility of disaster. You want them protected so that you’re protected as well. 

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