Today’s homeowners that have a pet pooch may want to invest in dog training and additional homeowners’ insurance policy coverage. Recent data released by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm show a spike in the number of dog bites and related claims in 2017.
In fact, a whopping one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims were due to dog-related injuries amounting to approximately $700 million in 2017 alone.
Nearly 90 million people in the United States call themselves dog owners. Of the 4.5 million people that sustain a dog injury each year, children in the age range of 5 to 9 years-old are youngest but the highest number of reported injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
However, these are not just stray or feral dogs wandering off the street—well over 50 percent are happening in our own backyards and with pooches that are known to the owners.
Typically, your standard homeowners’ policy or renters insurance policy does NOT include dog bite liability, according to Walter Page an Agency Principal of Lakeland/Winter Haven-based insurance agency, SIG Insurance.
“The liability limits vary with each policy and in many cases, animal liability is excluded and needs to be endorsed onto the policy if that carrier offers it. It’s important to note that should you have a claim that exceeds those policy limits the cost of those damages falls on the shoulder of the dog owner,” says Page.
Page also cautions homeowners or renters with dogs to make sure they understand their policies, what is covered and how that could impact their liability.
For instance, some insurers will withhold coverage based on the breed of dog which fair or not, tends to be pit bulls or Rottweilers. Other insurers might take on the risk but will charge a higher premium to cover any additional exposure or liability.
This is similar to the way that auto insurance policies work i.e. premiums are typically higher for sports cars than minivans.
“Homeowners and renters should also take note that if your dog has already bitten someone or has been deemed vicious, you could find yourself paying more or being denied coverage.”
The laws do vary by state so it’s important to sit down with your insurance agent and understand your policy and coverage.
Lastly, always take the right precautions to help prevent any dog bites or dog-related injuries BEFORE it happens