Who Let the Dogs Out?
There are times when man’s best friend becomes his worst nightmare. While many dog owners cite “security” as the reason they keep canines, less than 1% of those bitten by dogs are unlawful intruders. A majority of victims—more than 70 %—are children.
Dog attack victims in the US claim over $1 billion in monetary losses each year, and the number is likely to climb. Costs are rising rapidly; the rate of increase in dog bite injuries requiring medical treatment is 20 times that of the number of dogs.
Most dog owners understand the risk but may not realize if and how their home insurance will apply if their trusty hound takes a bite out of the neighbor.
Home insurance companies will often inquire about dogs from the beginning before agreeing whether or not to issue a policy. They rely on statistical data to determine the probability and severity of attack. While history proves that some breeds are more likely to strike than others (breeds most often involved in attacks are Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and Rottweilers), dogs of all breeds have proven capable of causing injury. They will likely want to know such information as how much time the animal spends outside and whether it is properly confined to your property.
It is important that you contact your home insurance company if considering a canine for a roommate. Failure to disclose information about the animal could cause the home insurance company to cancel your policy—and having a policy cancelled for this reason will make it very difficult for you to find a new policy elsewhere.
If the insurance company knows about your pup and is comfortable with his history of behavior, a policy will be issued. The good news is that most home insurance policies will cover costs associated with dog bites. Such costs may fall under the Medical Payments portion of the policy, a specific amount of insurance payable for medical costs regardless of fault. Costs for which you are legally liable fall under the Personal Liability portion of your policy.
In most cases, the owner of a dog can be legally liable for injuries caused by the dog. Therefore it is important you carefully consider the limits of liability on your home insurance policy. A dog bite can lead to expensive medical bills and other costs such as lost wages for the victim. More serious attacks can permanently scar, disfigure or disable a victim, causing considerable hardship, particularly if the victim is a child.
The unpredictable nature of the severity of injury and identity of victim are important reasons why higher limits of liability are essential. In addition to higher liability limits on your home insurance policy, ask your Trusted Choice® insurance professional about a personal umbrella policy. This policy can significantly increase the amount of liability insurance available for dog bites and other claims of liability against you or your family.