Do you own one or more of the following breeds or a mix of one of these breeds of dog?
American Bull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
If you answered “yes,” then your personal assets are at risk as most homeowners policies exclude coverage for breeds which have been designated as either “dangerous” or “vicious.” According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims in 2016.
Thinking of your furry family member as a liability isn't always easy. Even so-called "dangerous" breeds of dogs are still our family members. Many insurance companies will not insure these high-risk breeds, regardless of the dog's behavioral history. This caveat makes it especially important to know your homeowners policy and what it will and will not cover.
Dog owners are liable for injuries their pet(s) cause, and in some states, liability exists regardless of breed or knowledge of tendencies to bite. In fact, if you live in Ohio, you are required to purchase liability coverage of at least $100,000 for dogs classified as "vicious."
What does Animal Liability Insurance Cost?
Animal liability coverage is most often endorsed onto a homeowners policy. Homeowners policies vary greatly in animal coverages, you should never assume you are covered! When you shop with a qualified pet insurance specialist you can be sure you aren't duplicating coverage or creating gaps in coverage. Like stand-alone pet insurance, rates will depend on factors such as breed of animal, animal's behavioral history (past bites or incidents), as well as your location and coverage options. Curious to know what your animal liability would cost? The experts at The Insurance Shop will walk you through all options available in your state for your pet.
What are Common Animal Liability Claims?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Among children, the rate of dog-bite–related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Over half of dog-bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us. Nationwide Insurance reported that their average claim for dog bites was $33,230 in 2015. For clarification, "dog bite," can include other injuries caused by dog, such as fractures or other blunt force trauma injuries.
How Can I Reduce My Risk?
Even the most loving, gentle and best behaved dogs can get spooked or feel threatened, causing their animal instincts of flight or fight. The CDC reports that more than 50 percent of dog injuries occur on the owner's property. Owners are liable for their pets actions (in most states) if the owner knew the dog had a tendency to cause that kind of injury, if a state statute makes the owner liable (regardless of known tendencies), or if the injury was caused by unreasonable carelessness on the part of the owner.
To reduce the chances of your pet hurting someone the CDC suggests several steps.
Consult with a professional to learn about the best breed for your family and neighborhood, and spend time with a animal before committing to own.
Keep your pet up-to-date medically, including spaying and neuteringwhich studies say will reduce the chance of your pet being aggressive by three times.
Socialize your pet, making note of any situations they are uncomfortable or feel threaten in, such as around small children who tend to be rough with animals.
If you own an animal that has special needs or has shown aggressive behavior, posting signs on your property warning others or keeping your pet isolated from his/her triggers, such as children or other animals, can be the best way to prevent incidents.
For more information and tips from the CDC on how you can reduce your animal liability risks, visit www.cdc.gov.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I only liable for my pet when on my property?
While it is true that most incidents take place on the owner's property, many incidents do not and you may still be liable.
Am I liable if the injured party was warned prior to incident?
Even with "beware of dog," or other such warnings, you may still be liable for your animal's actions.
What if I own a dog breeding business?
If your business involves animals, you definitely need liability coverage for them. Contact an animal insurance specialist at The Insurance Shop to find out more about your needed coverage.
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