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No matter how well your dog behaves, accidents happen. About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs and nearly 900,000 receive medical treatment for dog bites each year, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dog bites can also get quite expensive: the average dog bite claim costs an insurance company around $ 50,000.
If your dog bites or injures someone on or off your property, you can be sued and required to pay legal and medical costs related to the injury. And if you’re uninsured, that money must come out of your pocket.
This is where liability coverage for home insurance policies can come in, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
â€œWhen looking for insurance companies for owners, make sure you understand their position on dogs and breeds, as some companies will not insure certain breeds,â€ says Charlie Wendland, claims manager at Branch Insurance, a Ohio-based insurance technology company. “And make sure you have adequate liability coverage to protect yourself and your family in the event your dog seriously injures someone else.”
Here’s what you need to know before purchasing home insurance if you own a dog.
Does Home Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
Home insurance can cover dog bites because dog bites are a type of liability, but it ultimately depends on the exclusions in your policy.
â€œThe answer is that some companies do and some don’t. Not all insurers are created equal when it comes to animal liability, â€said Ted Olsen, director of Goosehead Insurance, an independent insurance agency with branches in the United States. “That’s why it’s really important that you have a good agent to discuss this with.”
Condominium policies and tenant policies are similar to homeowners policies in that they also tend to cover expenses associated with dog bites, but you’ll want to make sure your liability limits are high enough.
Liability and dog bite insurance
The liability portion of your home insurance policy usually helps cover your legal, medical and veterinary expenses resulting from a pet-related injury. If you are covered, it will only be up to the limit of liability stated on your policy.
Check with your insurance agent to make sure your policy provides the necessary coverage and clarify what your limits are. If a claim exceeds your liability insurance limit, you will be responsible for paying for any damages above that amount.
Review your policy to make sure your dog is covered, as insurers often exclude certain breeds considered aggressive.
There is no specific threshold for a liability limit if you own a dog, but if you feel your liability limit is not high enough, consider purchasing an umbrella policy or even an excess policy to protect yourself. , you and your property. For example, if you own more than one dog, you may want to increase your coverage, as the risk of an accident is higher.
â€œFor most insurance companies, you don’t need to purchase additional insurance if you own a dog, but it’s always a good idea to review this with your insurance company,â€ says Wedland. “You might also want to discuss adding an umbrella cover if you aren’t wearing it already.”
When Does Home Insurance Not Cover Dog Bites?
Owners need to know if their dog is covered by their home insurance. Some policies exclude liability for certain types of dogs or dogs with a history of biting. If this is the case, the homeowner may need to explore other options, such as a rider or rider to the policy or umbrella coverage.
If your dog has a history of biting, you may need to pay a higher home insurance premium and be subject to other coverage limitations. For example, an insurer might give you home insurance but charge you more or exclude your dog from coverage altogether. In the worst case scenario, the company could refuse to insure your home.
Some insurance companies classify certain dog breeds as potentially dangerous and therefore will not insure owners who own those breeds. Dobermans, Rottweilers, English Mastiffs, and American Pitbull Terriers are often blacklisted breeds that insurers deem too risky to cover or will only insure at a higher premium.
Owning one of these breeds can make your owner’s coverage more expensive or more restrictive, but this can vary by company and state. It is wise to check with an insurance agent to see if your dog is covered under your current policy and what you can do if your dog is not.
â€œSome insurers cover you as usual if you have a dog, no matter what dog you have, but these insurers are rare,â€ Olsen explains. â€œMost businesses have some type of concern, so be sure to ask questions about it up front. “