You love Penny. She’s always friendly to strangers, but if she ever attacked or bit someone while at your apartment you could be in the doghouse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people annually, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. With over 50% of the bites occurring on the dog owner’s property, the issue is a major source of concern for insurers.
As a pet owner you are liable if your dog or cat injures someone in your home. Be prepared for issues relating to pets and liability. In the case of dogs, a landlord isn't liable for injuries inflicted by a renter's dog. Just leasing an apartment to a renter with a dog usually isn't enough, by itself, to make a landlord legally responsible for a renter's dog. For example, if a renter's apparently friendly dog bites someone; the landlord isn't liable for the injury. A court would have to prove that the landlord had prior knowledge that the animal in question was a danger to the community, which is difficult, if not impossible, in most cases.
Pet liability is not isolated to dogs alone. The Insurance Journal reports that half of all renters own pets, and these residents face increased liability exposure, not only with dogs but other exotic pets. Ironically, renters with pets are less likely to be insured. The likelihood of owning renters insurance is much lower (26%) among pet owners overall than it is among those who don't own any pets (32%).
Renters insurance will protect you if you are sued as a result of someone else’s injury, including those caused by pets. A renters insurance policy can offer you up to $300,000 in liability coverage, $500 in medical payments to others, and $500 in property damage coverage.
Remember, people can sometimes be ignorant about how to treat animals. Penny may be incapable of harming even a cat, but just in case you have an annoying visitor who insists on pushing Penny to her limit, renters insurance will protect your liability and save you from heartache.
This is a guest post from Assurant Specialty Property. For more information about renters insurance, visit http://www.rentersecurity.com.
This post was updated April 2, 2013.