Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dog Bite Liability

The Dog Days of Insurance

"What do you mean, they won't insure me because of my dog?" 
We hear this one often. "It's my dog. I take care of him/her
What business is it of the carrier? "

Why does my insurance carrier care what type of dog I have?

Dog Bites

Dog bites are why your carrier cares and why they get to decide what breeds they will/will not insure. 

These statistics might surprise you:
* Over 17,000 people were bitten by dogs in the US last year.
* The average cost per claim is $39,017.
* There were 39 dog bite fatalities in the US in 2017.
* Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than 1/3 of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars in 2018,  $675 million.   (Insurance information Institute)

Some dog breeds are considers higher risk dogs, such as Pit bulls and Rottweilers. This doesn't mean all Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are aggressive, risky dogs. But statistics show they are more likely to be aggressive than other breeds. Most Home insurance carriers have a list of "Aggressive" breeds they will not insure. Some carriers will not insure the home at all if there is an ineligible dog breed living in the residence. Others will exclude Liability on the dog. So if the dog bites someone, the carrier will not cover any of the claim payout. Most of us don't believe our dog could bite someone. And chances are your dog won't. But these are dogs and they are never fully rational or tame. So you need to plan accordingly and so do the carriers.

Personal Experience

Years ago, our next door neighbor had a Great Dane, Duke. Duke was an awesome dog. He got out one time and I went to pick him up for my neighbor. He walked straight up to me and laid his head on my shoulder. (Yes he was that tall and I am that short!) My point is, he was the sweetest dog. A gentle giant. One day their ten year old son was playing video games with a friend. The friend leaned down in front of Duke and Duke bit him. The child's head fit all the way in Duke's mouth. There were bite marks on his face and on the back of his head. The insurance carrier immediately put $100,000 in claims reserves in case the child needed surgery. The child didn't require surgery and the bites were taken care of with a few stitches and glue. Now the child is fine- no permanent damage, thank God. And we found out a little later than he had been taunting Duke by taking his chew toy away from him. The lesson here is that even the sweetest dog will defend himself (and his toys!). You never know what might set a dog off.  The Doctors said he had to be a very gentle dog who was not trying to hurt the child because a dog that size could have easily killed the child had he intended to hurt him.  It didn't cost our neighbors any money because they had the right coverage. But they had to get rid of Duke which broke all of our hearts. 

The Dog Owner is Responsible

As the home and dog owner, you are responsible. You can also be brought up on civil and criminal charges if your dog attacks someone and you are found to be liable.
If you look at the medical and court costs, the carrier can payout out thousands of dollars for a single claim. Be sure to let your insurance agent know about your dog. You want the dog listed on your policy so if there is ever a claim, you will be covered. Now if you have an "ineligible" dog breed, you may not be able to get liability coverage for your dog. But there are different options you should be able to discuss with your agent.

And that is why your carrier cares what type of dog you have.

Have more questions or want a quote?
* Call us at 877-987-8683  

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