Warning to Dog Owners: Who is Liable for Dog Bites?

Newman Crane

Dogs are a mainstay of the American familial unit. They are man’s best friend, a child’s continual playmate, and are downright adorable. However, they are still animals and sometimes can bite or injure humans. But as a dog owner, how are you liable?

According to the Insurance Journal, dog bite claims accounted for over one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars in 2011. And those claims aren’t cheap. The cost of dog bite claims increased a whopping 53.4% from 2003 to 2011 according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The cost has risen for several reasons. Medical expenses have increased, and the growing size of legal settlements has driven the significant increase in the cost of dog bite claims. The increased costs also mean that a dog owners’ financial exposure increases as well.

Dog owners are covered to an extent from canine-inflicted injuries under a homeowner’s insurance policy (however, you should still check the coverage with your provider). Some breeds pose a higher risk of injuring someone and may be excluded from coverage. If you are not covered, an umbrella policy can add additional liability coverage.

You can consult with a profession (breeder, animal behaviorist, or veterinarian) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for the insured’s household and neighborhood. When adopting a dog, make sure you spend time with it. Be cautious when introducing the dog around children, especially newborns. And have the dog spayed or neutered- studies show that dogs are three times more likely to bite if they are not neutered.

Owning a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience. By taking precautions to prevent aggressive actions, and getting the proper coverage, you’ll have peace of mind that you, your family, and your finances are protected. Contact Newman Crane today for more information.

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