Insuring Your Home: Dog Bites and Liability

In 2022, the American Pet Products Association estimated that there were approximately 88 million pet dogs in homes across the United States.

Sadly, each year sees about 4.5 million reported dog bites, with 800,000 of those requiring medical attention, and around 50% involving children.

These claims cost an average of $49,025, often covered by homeowner’s insurance. It’s crucial to ensure that your homeowner’s policy covers your dog and that you’re a responsible pet owner.

While most dogs are covered by insurance, some specific breeds, like Dobermans and pit bulls, may not be.


Owners are usually liable if their pets bite guests or trespassers, irrespective of the dog’s breed.

If an owner knew about their dog’s aggressive tendencies, they could be sued for negligence, especially if there is a record of similar incidents. Damages tend to be higher if the bite was foreseeable.

Dog bite laws vary by state. Some states hold owners strictly liable for any bite, while others require evidence of prior aggression (often known as a “one-bite” rule).

Negligence claims can arise if an owner fails to exercise reasonable care in controlling their pet. In most states, owners are not liable if the person bitten was trespassing.

Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover dog bite liability, provided the owner discloses their pet. Coverage typically ranges from $100,000 to $300,000.

In the event of a claim, insurers may choose not to renew your policy or extend coverage.


Not all dog-related incidents involve bites. Dogs can also cause harm by knocking over people or cyclists.

To reduce the risk of incidents, follow these tips for responsible pet ownership:

  • Keep your dog secured when guests or service workers are present.
  • Spay or neuter your dog, as studies show they are less likely to bite.
  • Socialize your dog to behave appropriately around strangers and other pets.
  • Avoid playing aggressive games like “tug of war.”
  • Consider pet training for your dog.
  • Introduce your pet slowly to new situations and people.
  • Understand your dog’s behavior and avoid situations that make it feel anxious or defensive.
  • For outdoor pets, provide secure fencing and keep them on a leash when outdoors without a fence.

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