Boston Terrier next to a chewed up door

Pets and apartments go together like … well, like cinnamon sugar and French toast. They’re a perfect fit. In fact, as far back as 2014, reported that 7 out of 10 renters in the U.S. owned pets.1 Today, I’d bet that number is even higher. Forget the Year of the Rabbit. 2023 is the Year of the Puppy!

Which raises questions we home insurance experts can’t help wondering about. Questions like what happens when your beloved terrier mix eats the bathroom door? It happens, folks. Pets have claws and teeth (and maybe even fangs), and you’ve got walls and furniture and appliances, some of which belong to your landlord. You also probably have visitors from time to time, which is a whole other can of worms. See where this is going?

Bottom line: Pets are wonderful, but they’re also a wild card when they’re living in  property that belongs to someone else. So let’s take a look at how your renters policy works when it comes to pet damage. Don’t have renters insurance yet? We highly recommend getting it, especially if you own a pet.

In this renters insurance guide, we’re going to discuss:

  • If renters insurance covers pets
  • How renters insurance covers pets
  • Cases where your renters policy doesn’t cover pets
  • How much pet liability coverage your renters policy provides
  • The difference between renters insurance and pet insurance

Did You Know? In Wyoming, 72 percent of households reported owning a pet. That’s the highest number in the U.S. Rhode Island brings up the rear at just 45 percent.2

Does Renters Insurance Cover My Pet?

This is a tricky question. We’re going to get into specific scenarios in just a sec, but broadly speaking, there are three key areas we’re going to focus on: damage to personal property, damage to people (also called “personal liability”), and your pet’s health.

Let’s tackle medical issues first because at the end of the day, if you own a pet, their safety is probably your main concern.

Medical Issues

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no, your renters insurance doesn’t cover visits to the vet or doggy dentist. You’ll need to look into pet insurance for that. More on this below.

Property Damage

You’re sometimes covered here. If your kitty goes Freddy Krueger on your couch, you’re obviously not going to get a check from your insurance provider. Not even the best insurance companies in the world would cover you here. But you may be entitled to a payout under certain circumstances.

Just keep in mind that with renters insurance, we’re always talking about coverage for your personal belongings, which your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover. We aren’t talking about your landlord’s property. Your renters policy may cover you for the former in the event of pet damage, but never for the latter.

Personal Liability

Your renters policy may cover you for medical and legal fees if your feisty barker takes a bite out of the UPS person’s leg — even if it doesn’t happen on your property. Neat, right? Like standard homeowners policies, renters insurance is there to help. But, again, this is only a rule of thumb. There are cases where you’ll be on your own, even with a renters policy in your back pocket.

FYI: Is your pet part of the family? According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association, dog owners are 10 percent more likely to treat their pets as family members than cat owners.3

How Renters Insurance Actually Covers Pets

Property Damage Revisited

Renters insurance is a pretty wide net. It covers you for a bunch of “named perils,” or common accidents and disasters. The big perils are fires, storms (including wind), certain types of water damage, theft, and vandalism. The question is: where do pets figure in here? You probably noticed they’re not on the list. That’s because, when it comes to pets, direct damage to your personal belongings isn’t covered.

You May Be Covered …

If — and this is a very gray  “if” — your pet triggers a named peril. In this case, your insurance provider may greenlight your claim. For example, say your Persian longhair starts a grease fire (don’t ask how) that melts your laptop. You may have a claim there. The same goes for a pipe your St. Bernard mistakes for a chew toy.

You can see the pattern here. Pure pet damage to your things is on you. Accidents your pet instigates may be covered.

That’s personal property. Now let’s take a quick look at how your renters policy treats pet “accidents” involving people.

Renters Tip: If water damages your things inside your rental property, your landlord’s policy won’t cover you. You need a renters policy for that.

Personal Liability Revisited

Personal liability is the part of your renters policy that covers accidents others have on your property, and sometimes accidents you cause when you’re on other people’s property. Coverage here means medical and legal bills. But are pet bites accidents?

You May Be Covered …

If, in the eyes of your insurer, a pet attack could be considered an accident.  This is as long as your pet doesn’t have a history of biting and isn’t on a list of “difficult” breeds. This list is mainly for dogs and varies from state to state, by the way, although, I guess, if your pet Siberian tiger bit the postman, you’d be on your own, too.

But I’m assuming you don’t keep a wild tiger in your two-bedroom apartment. So let’s say Ms. Purrscilla, your temperamental Siamese, scratches your sister’s 10-year-old out of the blue and they need stitches. You’re probably covered. If Ms. Purrscilla scratches everyone who enters your apartment, on the other hand, and they all end up in urgent care, you’re going to be popular on Venmo.

Did You Know? Pitbulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers are the dog breeds most commonly excluded from insurance coverage.

Are There Limits to My Pet Liability Coverage?

There are indeed limits to what your insurer will cover in case your pet hurts another person. The outer limit for any policy I’ve ever seen is $1,000,000 per claim, but unless you’re the Tiger King, the standard $100,000 in pet liability coverage should be fine.

Keep in mind that if you do own a cantankerous pet and you’re thinking about increasing the amount of your liability coverage just to be on the safe side, the higher that amount, the higher your monthly premium.

FYI: The average dog bite claim filed in the U.S. in 2021 was $49,025, down from $49,558 in 2020.4

Do I Need Separate Pet Insurance for My Pet?

If renters insurance covers us for accidents our pets cause, pet insurance is the opposite. It’s there to protect our pets if they have accidents, or if they get sick or need to visit the dentist.

Pet insurance typically costs just under $50 per month for dogs and a hair under $30 for cats. That’s accident and health insurance combined. You can take out policies that just cover accidents and they’re considerably cheaper.

Do you need pet insurance? Vet visits alone cost dog owners about $300 per year.5 (It’s under $100 for cats.) That’s almost half of the expense of owning a dog, per the ASPCA.6 That figure doesn’t take into account medical bills for serious illnesses or major procedures either.

My advice? Insurance is always hypothetical until it happens to you. With the rising costs of pet care, I’d say that if you have the extra money, pet insurance is money well spent, especially since your animal will most likely need more medical care as it ages.

Pet Owners Tip: Many insurance providers won’t insure pets under two months and over 12 years old.

Final Thoughts

We love pets in the U.S. We have a lot of them and we spend a lot on them. Makes sense. Bringing home a pooch means more than just a safer home; dogs (and cats) make us feel better.

Of course, as anyone with a pet knows, pets sometimes do crazy, inexplicable things. For many of these cases, renters insurance will have your back, provided your pet meets certain criteria.

So that’s good news for pet owners with renters insurance, and maybe a wake-up call for pet owners without it, especially any renters out there who thought that their landlord’s policy covered their stuff. (It doesn’t.)


Do I need renters insurance if I own a pet?

No, you don’t, but renters insurance will cover a number of accident scenarios involving pets, including cases where your pet injures someone.

Is renters insurance expensive?

No, it isn’t. Renters insurance costs between $15-25 per month on average, but you can find much cheaper policies. Lemonade insurance plans, for example, start at $5 per month. State Farm insurance also offers some affordable pet plans.

How does renters insurance cover pet owners?

Renters policies will cover the same named perils (see above) as homeowners insurance. If your pet accidentally causes an accident that your policy covers, your insurance company may step in to help. Renters insurance also covers pet owners in cases where their animals injure someone, whether inside or outside their rental property.

Is pet insurance a separate deductible?

Pet insurance is actually a separate policy, but with many top insurance providers, you can get discounts for bundling pet insurance with your renters policy.

How much pet liability coverage do I get with my renters insurance?

Most renters take out between $100,000 and $300,000 in liability coverage. In some states you can raise that amount to $1 million.