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Two Little Known Animal Liability Gaps in Your Homeowners Insurance

If your dog bites the UPS delivery person and he sues you, will your homeowners animal liability cover your legal defense and possible damages? It depends. If your dog’s breed is considered dangerous, then your dog may be excluded from coverage. This is fairly well-known, at least in the sense that anyone concerned about exclusions would likely think of this as a possibility.

Another obvious exclusion is whether a dog has a bite history. For some insurance companies, a single bite is grounds for excluding a dog. However, there are two other less obvious exclusions based on circumstances that are more appropriately covered by another type of insurance:


Your Dog Is in Your Car and Bites Someone

If a friend is riding with you and your dog in your car, animal liability for dog bites to your friend isn’t covered by many homeowners insurance policies. The reason is the incident happened in your car, which is the domain of auto insurance. Homeowner insurance companies aren’t in the auto insurance business. Some auto insurance companies cover dog bites but many don’t.

A more common scenario is your dog inside your car biting someone outside the car through an open window. This could be anyone walking by your car in a parking lot.


Your Dog Bites Someone Associated with a Business Activity at Your Home

You don’t have to set up your own company to be engaged in a business activity from your home. This is a common liability oversight that’s had costly consequences for many unsuspecting people. For example, you could be working from home for the day because an illness prevents you from going to your regular job. If your dog bites a co-worker who visits to bring documents related to your work, your homeowner’s insurance won’t provide liability coverage because this happened during a business activity, and they don’t provide business insurance.

Other examples include your dog biting the mailman or UPS person who is picking up packages you’re shipping to an eBay customer, or to someone you contacted through Craigslist. Perhaps you don’t think of this as a business activity because you’re just getting rid of old tools or clothes. However, it’s a business activity because money is exchanged for goods. The same is true if your dog bites someone at a yard sale or if you’re selling puppies and one of them bites a prospect.


The above are just two of the many curve balls in life. If you haven’t done so, check your homeowners policy carefully for liability coverage gaps that apply to you. Contact us if you find any or if you have any questions.