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Dog Bite Liability

By July 16, 2015May 21st, 2020Insurance
Make no “bones” about it: Pets and homeowners insurance policies at times don’t play very well together. That’s because animals are often very unpredictable and sometimes even downright dangerous in a domestic setting—especially canine companions. That’s why, if you own or plan to get a dog, it’s important to know the risks and repercussions of a pet-provoked home insurance claim and how you can minimize your liability and premium costs.

Consider that dog bites and other canine-related injuries were responsible for over one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014, totaling more than $530 million, per current data from the Insurance Information Institute. Although the number of dog bite claims nationwide fell 4.7 percent in 2014, the average cost per claim for the year increased 15 percent. Among other findings from the data: 

  • The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $32,072 in 2014 vs. $27,862 in 2013. 
  • The average cost per claim nationally has spiked more than 67 percent between 2003 and 2014 because of increased medical costs and the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Your Dog?

The simple answer is probably NO!!  Because of the huge liability claims and court costs associated with dog bites, most insurance companies have excluded animal liability. If the dog is not on the company’s “eligible breeds” list, an Animal Liability endorsement may be available. However, the limitation on this endorsement is usually only $25,000. But there are other options that we work with our clients to protect them.

Emerge Insurance Agency helps dog owners work through the best options for protecting themselves from the high costs of defending themselves in court and any liability for damages the courts might assess. Call us to discuss options that are available for you.