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Why Do I Need Animal Liability Coverage?

As a responsible dog owner, you do your best to meet your pet’s needs: shelter, proper nutrition, and regular vet checkups. But have you considered animal liability coverage? Sure, your dog is a member of your family, and you think he (or she) could never be a liability. If your dog has no bite history and isn’t a breed with an aggressive reputation, you might think you have nothing to worry about. However, even if your dog has had the best training and is treated like royalty, accidents can still happen. Dog-related damage is one of the leading causes of homeowner’s insurance claims.

Dogs have worked their way in both people’s hearts and their homes. The American Pet Product Association estimated that in 2015 there were more than 75 million dogs in the United States. And in a a recent American Veterinary Medical Association survey, over one-third of American households own a dog. Without a doubt, dogs provide joy and friendship for their owners. Yet if the dog owner does not have animal liability insurance, a dog can provide a big legal bill as well.

The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm® reported that dog bites and other dog related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims dollars paid out in 2014 costing in excess of half a billion dollars. In addition, the average cost per claim has risen more than 67 percent between 2003 and 2014 due to increased medical costs and the growing size of settlements and jury awards. The average cost for a bite claim nationwide rose 15% in the last year alone from $27,862 in 2013 to $32,072 in 2014. The most commonly injured groups suffering dog bites include children, the elderly, cyclists and mail carriers with a significant portion of incidents occurring on the dog owner’s property.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

Why Dog Owners Should Consider Animal Liability Cover

As a responsible dog owner, you do your best to meet your pet’s needs: shelter, proper nutrition, and regular vet checkups. But have you considered animal liability coverage? Sure, your dog is a member of your family, and you think he (or she) could never be a liability. If your dog has no bite history and isn’t a breed with an aggressive reputation, you might think you have nothing to worry about. However, even if your dog has had the best training and is treated like royalty, accidents can still happen. Dog-related damage is one of the leading causes of homeowner’s insurance claims. The benefit behind animal liability coverage is that it can cover even the most innocent misadventure.

Perhaps your pup got a little too rough when playing. Maybe your dog got overly excited about springtime weather and dug into your neighbor’s flower beds. Perhaps your dog got scared and overreacted to a situation. Even a scratch from a dog trying to learn “shake” has led to insurance claims. In a world where anything can happen–and just about anything could prompt a lengthy and expensive lawsuit–animal liability coverage is just one more part of being a responsible pet owner.

Is My Dog Covered Under My Current Homeowner’s Insurance?

You might assume that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover any dog bites or other issues that might arise because of your pet. However, this may not be the case. For example, your insurance company might not cover dogs of certain breeds, such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. Having additional animal liability coverage will help ensure that you’re covered.

You might assume that lawsuits only occur for serious attacks. If your dog is not vicious, you may assume that you do not need this coverage. However, even minor nips can result in expensive medical bills. Plus, in some cases, the dog does not have to bite someone at all in order for you to end up in a lawsuit. Even things like a dog digging in someone else’s yard can result in serious costs that you might not be able to afford. With animal liability coverage, however, you won’t have to worry about covering these costs yourself.

In some cases, people are required to have this type of coverage on their dogs. For example, if you live in an area with a homeowner’s association or if you rent, you might have to have insurance coverage on your dog.

But what if your dog bites the UPS delivery person and he sues you, will your homeowners animal liability cover your legal defense and possible damages? It depends. If your dog’s breed is considered dangerous, then your dog may be excluded from coverage. This is fairly well-known, at least in the sense that anyone concerned about exclusions would likely think of this as a possibility.

Another obvious exclusion is whether a dog has a bite history. For some insurance companies, a single bite is grounds for excluding a dog.

But, there are two other less obvious exclusions based on circumstances that are more appropriately covered by another type of insurance:

Your Dog Is in Your Car and Bites Someone

If a friend is riding with you and your dog in your car, animal liability for dog bites to your friend isn’t covered by many homeowners insurance policies. The reason is the incident happened in your car, which is the domain of auto insurance. Homeowner insurance companies aren’t in the auto insurance business. Some auto insurance companies cover dog bites but many don’t.

A more common scenario is your dog inside your car biting someone outside the car through an open window. This could be anyone walking by your car in a parking lot.

Dog biting man's armYour Dog Bites Someone Associated with a Business Activity at Your Home

You don’t have to set up your own company to be engaged in a business activity from your home. This is a common liability oversight that’s had costly consequences for many unsuspecting people. For example, you could be working from home for the day because an illness prevents you from going to your regular job. If your dog bites a co-worker who visits to bring documents related to your work, your homeowner’s insurance won’t provide liability coverage because this happened during a business activity, and they don’t provide business insurance.

Other examples include your dog biting the mailman or UPS person who is picking up packages you’re shipping to an eBay customer, or to someone you contacted through Craigslist. Perhaps you don’t think of this as a business activity because you’re just getting rid of old tools or clothes. However, it’s a business activity because money is exchanged for goods. The same is true if your dog bites someone at a yard sale or if you’re selling puppies and one of them bites a prospect.

How XINSURANCE Can Help You Get The Animal Liability Coverage You Need

Perhaps your pup got a little too rough when playing. Maybe your dog got overly excited about springtime weather and dug into your neighbor’s flower beds. Perhaps your dog got scared and overreacted to a situation. Even a scratch from a dog trying to learn “shake” has led to insurance claims. In a world where anything can happen–and just about anything could prompt a lengthy and expensive lawsuit–animal liability coverage is just one more part of being a responsible pet owner.

When you look at your four-legged furry friend, you might not see him as being a danger to anyone else. However, no matter how well-trained and well-behaved your dog might be, there is still a chance that you could end up in a lawsuit over its behavior. If you have never thought about purchasing animal liability coverage, now is the time to consider doing so.

Unfortunately, many homeowner or renter’s policies do not cover pets, and some insurance companies restrict certain breeds from coverage. There’s no need to worry. Whether your dog has a clean “record,” is a commonly excluded breed, or even has a bite history, XINSURANCE.COM can cover you and your beloved pet. Contact us to learn more about animal liability coverage and how you can give your furry companion even greater care.