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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Anyone who is both a pet owner and a home owner is likely to ask the question, “Will my homeowners insurance policy cover dog bites?” Dog attacks, damage to property done by your pet, and other similar matters are also likely to come to mind.

Standard homeowners insurance will cover some of these things under certain circumstances but not all of it under all circumstances. It’s important as a homeowner to know what you can expect to be covered.

Here are the major facts you need to know as a homeowner who also owns pets in regard to your homeowners insurance.

1. Personal Liability Coverage May Apply to Some Dog Attacks

Every standard home insurance policy includes a personal liability coverage section. This coverage is limited in several ways. First of all, there is a limit to the total amount it will pay out, normally between $100,000 and $300,000 if you have substantial coverage.

Secondly, your policy does NOT cover accidents that injure the policyholder or those living in his/her home. It DOES cover accidents to a third party such as a visiting friend or relative, a delivery boy, or a contractor working on your home (under specified circumstances.)

Some dog breeds may be excluded if they are considered too dangerous. Other insurers may require you to buy more liability cover, pay slightly higher premiums, or meet other requirements before dog bites and attacks are covered. Rules for certain breeds may differ from the general rules for other dogs and pets.

2. Know What Your Coverage Pays For And What It Doesn’t

In the event of a covered incident occurring at your home, the liability cover will normally cover legal costs regardless of whether or not you are deemed at fault. It may also help with medical bills and pain and suffering settlements stemming from such an accident. In some cases, lost wages and/or death benefit claims may also receive at least some coverage.

Again, coverage is limited to third parties and won’t help pay for dog attack injuries to yourself, your own children, or others living in your home. Health or accident insurance may be best to cover that kind of risk.

Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home under many scenarios, but it won’t cover destruction your own pet does to your building, detached structures, or lot. However, if a visitor’s property or a neighbor’s property is damaged by your dog, it is very likely that property damage liability coverage will apply.

3. Which Breeds Are a Concern to Insurance Companies?

In general, only the most dangerous dog breeds will be a concern to insurers in such a way as to merit special treatment. These breeds are extremely muscularly built and can inflict severe injury with a single bite. They include such breeds as pit bulls, rottweilers, Doberman pinscher, and chowchows. The exact list varies from insurer to insurer.

High-risk, aggressive pets pose a significant risk. There are millions of dog bites and attacks in the US every single year, some of them leading to hospitalization or even death. For that reason, some companies won’t cover certain breeds or may deny owners of such dogs coverage altogether.

But there are many insurers who WILL cover you and your pet under the limits of the liability coverage. Take the time to shop around, compare prices and terms, and ask questions. Don’t just assume you can’t get coverage and give up!

4. Find Ways to Minimize the Risk of a Dog Attack

Many insurers will take note when you act responsibly to reduce the risk of a dog bite attack. More importantly, it will help protect you, your family, and others from harm.

Here are some tips to help minimize the risk factor:

  • Post BEWARE OF DOG signs on your premises in highly visible locations.
  • Make sure your dog has been vaccinated for rabies and has all other necessary vaccinations.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash when it is in the yard.
  • Never leave children alone with a dog, especially a high-risk breed.
  • Take time to socialize your dog to be friendly around humans and to train it to obey you.
  • Give visitors instructions on how to treat your dog to lower the risk of an attack.
  • Build a fence. Fences can be covered by homeowners insurance, so your fence can help lower risks of an attack, make your dog’s life more pleasant, and be covered against damage.

5. Know How to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

If your homeowners insurance premium is going to be a little higher in order to cover the risks of owning a dog, especially a high-risk breed, then you may want to find other ways to save. And there are many of them!

Just choosing a good insurer with good rates is a start. Then you may be able to get discounts for having few or no claims on your record, for having a good credit score, or for other reasons. Definitely inquire about which discounts may be available and if you can qualify for any of them.

Increasing your deductible or lowering the total coverage amount will also obviously reduce your monthly premiums. Bundling homeowners insurance with car or health insurance in a single package is another possible way to save.

To learn more on how to get affordable homeowners insurance that meets your needs, regardless of whether or not you own a pet, contact the experienced insurance agents at Flagler County Insurance Agency today for a free consultation!