A single canine bite can cost a dog owner several thousands of dollars in medical bills, and even worse, hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits. Having canine liability insurance can help you keep your home, and protect your personal assets if your dog bites, injures, or in the worst case scenario, kills someone. Depending on the type of canine attack, you could even be arrested and go to jail.
Canine Liability Facts
You may not want to think that your dog would hurt anyone, but there are many reasons to take the step of getting insurance against this possibility. The Insurance Information Institute has stated that in 2007 over 1/3 of all insurance claims made against homeowner liability policies were instigated due to dog bites. In the United States in 2007 almost five million people were bitten by dogs, over thirty people were killed by dogs, and the average cost of a dog bite claim was over $24,000.
Depending on the state that you live in there are different legal standards for dog owner liability. Most states will hold the owner liable for any damage an animal does, regardless if there is a prior history. Besides medical and property damage, the awards can also be made for mental anguish, even if the dog is aggressive but doesnâ€™t bite. Some of the states will limit this liability if it is the first time the dog has attacked or been hostile.
Rare in the past, criminal charges are on the rise if the owner is found to be negligent, or if the canine assault is particularly brutal.
Homeowners Insurance versus Canine Liability Insurance
It is important that you know what type of coverage you have on your homeownerâ€™s policy if you have a dog or are taking care of a dog and that dog attacks someone. Check if the policy is only good for attacks that happen on your site, or if you have taken the dog somewhere else, like for a walk.
There are many homeowner insurance policies that exclude paying for a canine attack if you are working out of your home. It is important to contact your insurance company and determine the extent of your coverage.
Because dog-bite claims are on the rise, there are many insurance companies that will have exclusions, conditions, or limits on a typical homeownerâ€™s policy. There are some canine breeds that have even been blacklisted when it comes to liability coverage of any type. If you have one of these breeds you may need to get a specific policy that covers these dog breeds. The blacklist often includes the following breeds:
- Pit bull
- Wolf hybrid
The insurance company may also elect to cover the above breeds, with a change in coverage if the dog bites or attacks someone. At this point they could drop the coverage, charge a higher premium, or demand that in order to keep the homeowner insurance in place the owner must agree to exclude the dog from coverage. This waiver of coverage would mean the dog owner would have to pay for any future lawsuit or claim on their own unless they got separate canine liability insurance.
Canine Liability Insurance Protection
Having canine liability insurance does more than pay for medical bills and protect you from lawsuits if your dog bites someone. This type of insurance can also cover any damage done by the animal to property, whether it is yours or someone elseâ€™s. The protection also can extend to your business and any dog that is deemed to be under your control, whether it is your animal or one you are taking care of.
If you are renting a home and have a pet, you are responsible for any damage done by the animal to the property or anyone that comes on the property. If you donâ€™t have canine liability insurance, the ownerâ€™s policy is not going to pay for the problems caused by your animal.
Canine Liability Insurance Costs
There are many factors that go into determining the cost of this type of policy. These factors would include if you have some type of protection under your homeownerâ€™s policy and just need to extend this coverage, what type of dog breed you own, and whether or not this is just for your home or you need to cover a business.
Stand alone canine liability insurance policies can start at a couple hundred dollars a year, and increase dramatically depending on the plan limits, the state you live in, plan deductibles and more. Above all, the type of breed and the history of your particular animal will be taken into account when you apply for canine liability insurance.