Many communities require all residents to carry renters insurance, but some only require the coverage of those who have dogs in the apartment. Those people frequently ask us, why do I need renters insurance with a dog? The Effective Coverage renters insurance experts have your answer.
Is The Breed Covered When You Have Renters Insurance With A Dog?
First, let’s assume this is not an excluded breed. Some are. If it were, you’d be looking for dog liability insurance, which is an entirely separate matter available through specialty markets. For our purposes today, we’ll assume the dog in question is, say, a yellow lab and so is friendly and safe.
To start with, friendly and safe doesn’t mean he wouldn’t bite if provoked enough. Can you count on the neighbor kids not to torture the dog (as kids are wont to do) until they snap? Unfortunately, being abused by the neighbor kids is not generally a defense to dog bite liability. Why do you need renters insurance with a dog? Because those medical bills can get large quickly.
Renters Insurance With A Dog – More Than Just Dog Bite Liability
But it’s not just bites that are a concern for dog liability. Life has a way of demonstrating reasons you might need renters insurance with a dog. We saw a question on Avvo with a dog situation that interested us. As set out by the poster, the facts of the case are thus:
- In 2012, a USPS mail carrier injured their ankle on the front porch of a rented single family residence.
- The residence was occupied by the tenant and his dog.
- The dog ran out to greet the mail carrier, allegedly causing her to trip over her mail bag on the porch and to injure her ankle.
- Landlord may have negligently allowed his landlord insurance to lapse.
- Mail carrier has filed suit against the tenants and the property owners.
The asker of the question was the tenant, who is concerned that in the absence of the landlord having insurance, he’ll be responsible. In reality, the landlord’s insurance is unlikely to play a strong role in this matter. Renters insurance with a dog is crucially important because people will sue over nearly anything, even if the defendant has merely a tangential connection to the injury suffered.
The owner didn’t bring the dog onto the premises, the tenant did. The owner didn’t allow the dog to happily run out to greet and bark at the mail carrier, the tenant did. The tenant knew or should have known that people often are frightened by unfamiliar dogs, even the breeds that are friendly and generally safe.
The facts of the case do not allege that the step on which the mail carrier tripped was defective, nor that the owner has more than a tenuous connection to the events at hand. They do likely establish that the tenant had a duty of care to keep his dog under control (per ordinance in most cities and towns), and it not, to ensure the mail carrier was aware of the presence of a dog.
In this instance, the tenant was negligent in those duties, and that negligence may be determined to have been the proximate cause of the mail carrier’s injury. In that case, the tenant would likely be responsible for medical bills of the mail carrier, lost wages, lost seniority (they’re union, but only time actively at work generally counts for seniority, medical time off generally does not), pain and suffering, etc.
If the mail carrier developed an addiction to pain pills because of this injury, and otherwise would not have, the tenant could even be responsible for paying for treatment costs associated with that addiction! That’s why it’s so important to have renters insurance with a dog.
Remember, the mail carrier has already filed a lawsuit in this matter. That means that lawyers are billing the tenant even as we speak. Renters insurance with a dog will generally pay for the defense costs associated with a claim or suit which may reasonably be paid by the policy. All tenants with a dog need renters insurance, if for that reason only – lawyers defending even a small dog case can get very expensive very quickly.
So Really, Why Do I Need Renters Insurance With A Dog?
Why do you need renters insurance with a dog? Because people love to sue over dogs. Because your landlord doesn’t have insurance to cover you in that suit. Because injuries and damages can be significant. Because legal bills can be out of this world by the time a matter like this settles.