Before Going Back to the Office, Check Your Home Insurance Policy…

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  • Home insurance policies cover pets biting a guest or destroying someone else’s property, not damage to the owner’s home. 
  • $300,000 is the recommended liability insurance coverage amount for pet owners. 
  • Using crates and pet gates can mitigate damage in the home from behaviors related to separation anxiety.

As people return to the workplace after coronavirus restrictions lift, new routines and habits are formed. And there is someone in our family that certainly has an opinion of this “new” normal, yet have no say in the matter — our pets. In fact, 38% of homes have at least one dog and a record number of pet adoptions occurred in 2020. This means many of our furry friends are experiencing owners leaving all day, multiple days a week, for the first time.  

Pets have had their humans’ undivided attention for over a year now. Between surprise appearances on video conference calls, to snuggling during lunch breaks, pets are used to having us around. Some have had less contact with visitors due to lockdowns and social distancing. Now it’s time for a transition and this may lead to separation anxiety with our pets, which in turn, may result in a greater occurrence of damaging behavior.

Concerns About Your Pet and Home

Separation anxiety is a common occurrence with pets and can lead to multiple destructive behaviors. 

As Dr. Chryle Bon, DVM and veterinary spokesperson for Doggie Designer, explains, anxiety is a “form of stress, so we often see the same types of stress responses that we do in people. Dogs may stop eating or become ravenous and eat everything in sight. They may pace or circle, bark incessantly, or turn to narcotic behaviors such as compulsive licking or self-mutilation”

“Of course, they may also become destructive to household objects and sometimes aggressive towards other pets. You may notice your dog gets easily agitated or has excessive drooling as you’re getting ready to leave.” Dr. Bonk adds. 

If you suspect your pet is suffering from separation anxiety, Dr. Bonk advises trying a few different techniques which may help, such as time to get used to the idea. 

This could mean starting by taking short, frequent trips without them. Start with five- to 10-minute trips out of the house with a quick return and lots of praise if everything goes well. Then gradually increase the length and frequency of those trips.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pets In Your Home?

A typical homeowners insurance policy covers damage from a pet — but only if it damages someone else’s property. If the property damage occurs in your own home, then you are responsible for the repairs and replacement. 

The liability portion of your homeowners policy also covers medical payments for others not in your household, like if someone is bitten by your dog and needs medical treatment. Whether the bite occurred to a non-household member inside your home, or while you’re out walking your dog, the liability coverage in your policy typically covers medical payments and related expenses.

Where it becomes a little trickier is if your homeowners insurance policy excludes certain breeds, or dogs altogether. If your current policy puts limits on your dog, speak to a licensed insurance agent about purchasing a separate umbrella policy — which is additional liability coverage — and could possibly provide the coverage you need.

 Quentin Coolen, founder and CEO of Waffle, explains the difference between pet insurance and homeowners insurance.

 “With pets there are two buckets of insurance: the health and well-being side, which pet insurance covers, and the homeowners and liability side, which is covered by your homeowners policy,” Coolen says. “People have to read the fine print. It depends on the provider, but some homeowners insurance providers exclude dogs or breeds — even dog biting — so you have to be careful about what your policy includes.”

It’s also important to understand if you have a separate pet insurance policy, it “does not pick up and include dog bites or damage to your home,” explains Coolen. 

For this reason, adequate liability coverage with a homeowners policy is critical, and make sure to read the fine print for dogs. At least $300,000 is the recommended liability coverage amount but should add more based on your financial circumstances. 

Tips for Pet Safety In the Home

When experiencing a major change of going back to work — or any other significant transitions in life  — it’s an optimal time to review pet safety around the home. Enhanced safety measures limit danger and some even help channel your pup’s energy and limit the damage.  

  • Crates: Crates limit the amount of space a pet can destroy. It provides a comfortable, safe environment for them and keeps them from wandering around unsupervised. 
  • Pet gate: Another option for keeping your dog contained and limiting destruction is to use a durable pet gate.
  • Leashes: Quality leashes are essential for daily walks and keeping dogs properly restrained. Look for the handle type, length, odor control, and reflective properties if walking at night. 
  • Dangerous plants: It’s crucial to prevent accidental poisoning, especially when your pet is left alone, by removing dangerous houseplants. Common dangerous household plants include lilies, tulips and amaryllis, among others. 
  • Productive chew toys: Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, so giving them a durable chew toy gives them something, besides your furniture and shoes, to focus on.
  • Wi-Fi dog/nanny cams with audio: A pet camera not only helps you keep an eye on your pooch while you’re gone, but the audio function allows you to speak to your pet and provide additional comfort.

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