According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites and dog-caused injuries made up more than one-third of homeowners insurance liability claim payments in 2014. Even so, this type of insurance comes with significant limitations that make separate liability insurance for dogs a smart choice.

One-Bite Rule

Many homeowners or renters insurance policies cover the first bite from a dog—but only that bite. Afterward, the insurance company either cancels the policy or inserts a canine exclusion clause.

“Dangerous” Breeds

Homeowners insurance companies frequently won’t cover so-called dangerous dogs: pit bulls, Rottweilers, chows and Dobermans, for example. Several states, Pennsylvania and Michigan among them, forbid this type of breed discrimination, but if you don’t live in one of those states, liability insurance for dogs on top of your regular policy is a good idea.

Business Exclusions

Homeowners insurance is designed to insure homes and, as a result, contains exclusions for business pursuits. For example, if you run a business out of your home and a dog bite occurs during this pursuit, don’t count on your homeowners policy to help. Say you sell puppies out of your home as a side business, and a puppy bites a potential buyer who came to visit. You’re probably not covered under your homeowners policy.

One of the best things you can do is make sure you understand the liability portion of your homeowners insurance coverage. If the language is dense, get in touch with your broker and ask what you can expect from the company as far as liability insurance for dogs goes.