While dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, with one bite they can become a physical and financial enemy. In 2021, there were more than 5 million dog-bite injuries, and more than half the victims were children. Dog attacks account for one-third of all liability claims on homeowners’ insurance policies.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
Homeowners are financially liable for dog bites. Most homeowners and renters policies provide $100,000 to $500,000 in coverage for liability claims. However, anything over the policy limit is the homeowner’s responsibility. Once a dog has bitten someone, it poses an increased bite risk. A survey among insurance companies showed that 70% of insurers would not renew a homeowner’s policy after one dog bite. To increase home security, consider buying an alarm system rather than a dog.
An alarm may qualify for an insurance discount. There are two policies that may offer protection against the expense of dog bites:
- Personal liability coverage: if you are responsible for any of the injuries that occurred, this coverage may be of use. It can help pay of not only injuries but the expense of any lawsuit at hand as long as it does not surpass the limits of your chosen policy.
- Medical payments coverage: if the accident occurs on your property, with the result of sending someone to the hospital or doctors office then this coverage may help pay for any medical expenses deemed necessary. If the payment does not surpass the policies limit, it can help pay for a large portion of hospital bills.
Umbrella insurance may help protect some of your assets when the liability amount exceeds the limits of the policy you have. Coverage may be limited for those that happen away from the property itself. However, it is always important to note that the amount of coverage offered for a dog bite can depend on several factors such as the insurance company, dog bread, policy coverage and geographic location.
What Factors Determines Dog Bite Coverage?
There are often times when insurance companies deny coverage based on the claims being made, it is important to understand if home insurance may step in and cover. Consider the following:
- You may be denied coverage solely because of the breed of the dog, Pit Bulls or Rottweilers typically get denied because of their aggression and danger. However, some companies do not consider the breed at all.
- If the dog has a history of biting or attacking people, most companies will automatically determine the dog as vicious.
- Some states already require you to put up warning signs or keep them on leashes if you dog is considered more likely to attack or bite.
- Home insurance coverage does not extend to those that are bit or attacked living in the household.
Helpful Tips to Consider When Becoming a Dog Owner
Whether you are a new dog owner, or new to a busy neighborhood there are always things to consider or keep in mind:
- Carefully consider dog breeds before selecting a pet and consult a veterinarian for advice.
- Introduce new dogs slowly to new social situations. Never put a dog in a position where it feels threatened.
- Have the dog spayed or neutered. Unneutered dogs are three times more likely to bite than neutered dogs.
- Do not run past a dog or disturb it while it is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
- Play non-aggressive games such as fetch with dogs. Playing aggressive games can encourage inappropriate behavior.
- Never approach a dog you don’t know and avoid teasing or eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
Teaching children at a young age how to handle any kind of dog could help prevent the next dog bite or attack. All parents, even those without family pets, should teach their children to be careful around animals.
- Does Home Insurance Cover Dog Bites? Progressive.