Dog Bite Homeowner Responsible Even If Doesn’t Own Dog


Does homeowners insurance cover a dog bite even if the owner of the house does not own the dog?  Our attorneys are asked this question regularly.  The answer depends on the relationship between the homeowner and the dog owner.  In Minnesota, a landlord is usually not responsible for a tenant’s dog.  So if the dog owner is renting a house, or even a room in a house, the owner of the house may not be liable.

However, if the owner of the dog is staying at the house as a guest, the homeowner will probably be responsible, even if they don’t own the dog, and the homeowners insurance will have to cover the dog attack/bite. Our lawyers have had had many cases where an adult child is staying at their parents’ house, or a homeowner has a friend visiting, and the person staying or visiting owns a dog that bites someone.  The dog owner is still primarily responsible, so if the dog owner has insurance coverage, that insurance will have to pay compensation first for the person who was bitten. However, if the dog owner doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance, then the homeowner where the person and their dog is staying will have to submit the claim to their insurance. (One likely exception to this would be if the dog is staying at someone’s home, and bites the homeowner or someone actually living there – most homeowner’s policies would exclude coverage in that situation. Homeowner’s insurance would usually only cover a dog bite if the dog attacks or bites someone not living in the same home.)