Does insurance cover the 4.5M people bitten by dogs annually?

With dogs biting 4.5 million people annually, insurance covering dog owners’ liability should be non-negotiable. In a recent report, explored the option of adding a dog to a home insurance policy. They discovered homeowners’ liability insurance might cover the medical costs associated with a dog bite up to a $10,000 limit.

Homeowners who are also dog owners may be tempted to hide that they have a dog from their home insurance provider. That’s not a good idea.

Risk of Withholding Pet Information From Insurer

An insurance provider will almost certainly not pay for claims associated with a dog bite if the policyholder told them they didn’t have a dog. 

The dog owner is liable for damages their pet does. So if a dog bites another person or even another pet, the owner is responsible for paying for the costs of treating the wound. Medical treatments can be costly, and paying for them out of pocket could cause financial ruin.

Homeowner Insurance Coverage for Dogs

If a household resident is bitten by a dog, homeowner’s insurance does not cover the treatment. Instead, the injured individual will rely on their medical coverage. However, if the dog bites a guest in the home or someone outside the home, the liability portion of home insurance will cover the medical bills.

Most home insurance plans have a limit of $10,000 to pay for dog bite injuries. The injured party could sue for far more, though. The insurance provider will pay up to the policy limit, usually between $100,000 and $300,000, unless they have a specific exclusion or limit for pet-related liability. 

Home Insurance Restricted Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are associated with a higher incidence of biting. That means they pose a great risk to insurance providers. Some insurers view the risk as too high to insure. 

Commonly restricted breeds include the following:

  • Pitbulls
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs

Other large-breed dogs are often restricted, as well. 

Obtaining Insurance for a Restricted Breed

Fortunately, only some insurance providers completely restrict specific breeds. Some will cover even the highest-risk breeds if the particular dogs have no history of incidents or have taken training courses. 

Homeowners struggling to find a home insurance provider that will cover their high-risk dog can consider a standalone pet liability insurance policy. The benefit of these policies is that a claim won’t result in higher home insurance premiums. The downside is that the rates are high.

Dog owners who find a traditional insurance provider to cover their dogs may also want to consider an umbrella insurance policy. Dog owners could be sued beyond what their home insurance policy will pay. In that situation, umbrella insurance can make up the difference.

Preventing Dog Bites reminds readers that prevention is the first step to success. No one looks forward to dealing with the aftermath of their pet biting another person. Taking these precautions can help dog owners prevent their dogs from biting:

  • Daily exercise – Exercise keeps dogs healthy, both physically and mentally. 
  • Distance – Dogs can surprise even their owners. To prevent situations from getting out of hand, dog owners should put distance between their pets and others. A leash and fenced backyard can help accomplish that.
  • Educate – Dog owners should learn the risks associated with different breeds and how to mitigate those risks.
  • Neuter – Neutering often results in a less aggressive dog.
  • Train – A dog trained to interact safely with other pets and people will be less likely to cause injury.

Pet owners must take these steps to keep their dogs and others safe. If a dog bites someone, home insurance will likely cover the associated recovery costs, but they will likely exclude coverage for the dog in the future. 

Read’s entire report here: Do I have to add my dog to my homeowners insurance?

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