As an insurance agency, we’ve heard this scenario many times: Tom owns a dog and considers her a member of his family. The dog is a sweet and fun-loving dog. She gets along with kids and barely even barks during their daily walks. One day Tom and his wife decide to host a party. Their dog is part of their family, so naturally she’ll be enjoying the festivities too.
The guests arrive and the house is buzzing with activity. All of a sudden, a guest drops a glass dangerously close to the dog. She gets frightened and jumps. The guest wants to try to calm her down, and he attempts to pet her. The dog is scared, confused and does the unthinkable – she bites the guest. The guest is injured to the degree where he requires immediate medical attention.
This is a pet owner’s nightmare. Is Tom at fault? Who pays the medical bills? Does Tom’s insurance cover dog bites?
A dog attack may be covered under your homeowners policy. There are several insurance carriers that will protect the homeowner from costs resulting from dog bites. Coverage will typically protect you if your dog bites someone visiting your home or if it bites someone when you take it out for a walk.
One important factor to consider is the breed of dog that you own. Unfortunately, there are some dogs that are considered a higher risk, so they could be excluded from coverage.
Dog bite claims can get costly. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $29,752 in 2012.
What should you do if you have a dog and aren’t sure if you have proper coverage? Contact your insurance agent to review your policy. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced insurance specialists, give us a call at (516) 431-9100.