Beware the dog that takes a chunk out of your bank account. You are liable should your pet pooch bite someone, but your homeowners or renters insurance may take some sting out of the injury. How protected you are can be limited by both the state in which you live and the insurance policy you own.
Every year, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those bitten, 885,000 victims require medical care for their injuries and half of these victims are children. The average insurance claim payout in 2014 was $32,072. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than one-third of all homeowners liability insurance claims paid in 2014 were for dog bites and other dog-related injuries. It pays to have insurance coverage to help cover damages should your dog bite or injure someone. Homeowners insurance usually covers dog bites, but only for the first instance. After that, you’re on your own.
Several factors influence dog bite insurance liability claims coverage:
The breed of dog you have – Many, but not all, insurance companies won’t cover certain breeds they deem risky, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and chows. This is usually up to the insurance companies, but some states prohibit carriers from excluding specific dog breeds.
Whether your dog has bitten before – Many insurance carriers will only cover the first biting incidence. If the dog bites again, coverage can be out the window. A one-bite law stipulates that the owner is liable if he or she knew the dog was dangerous; however, the victim has to prove that this is the case.
Your state’s dog bite statutes – A number of states have statues that require owners be responsible for injuries caused by their dogs whether or not the owner knows the dog is dangerous. Florida, for instance, stipulates that the owner is liable if the victim is six years or younger or the owner was negligent; if the owner has posted a sign that warns of a dangerous dog on the premises, that owner is not considered liable.
When buying a homeowners policy, be sure to ask about dog bite coverage. If dog-related injuries are not covered, look into purchasing separate liability insurance for your dog. For more information about homeowners insurance or to compare rates, get free homeowners insurance quotes using this online tool.