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Dogs have been biting people for millennia. Often it is unprovoked, or the animal is just operating on instinct. Sadly, there have been breeds mislabeled as “dangerous” dogs: Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chows, Great Danes, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Wolf-hybrids. Where or not you own a dog on this list or any other, your four-legged companion may be an insurance risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and about 885,000 require medical attention for these injuries; about half of these are children.
An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the Insurance Information Institute found that while the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased 4.7 percent in 2014, the average cost per claim for the year was up 15 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $32,072 in 2014, compared with $27,862 in 2013. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing.
Most homeowners insurance will cover dog bites. However, once a claim is filed, your dog may become a liability no matter how friendly they are. Some insurance company may charge a higher premium, refuse to renew the policy, or won’t cover such incidents in the future. Some companies may require a liability waiver for dog bites, and others may specifically exclude dogs, specific breeds or all dogs, in new homeowners policies altogether.
If you are a dog owner, or plan to be one, you need to consult with your insurance professional to see if your best pal is covered under your homeowners policy. You may need to look into an umbrella policy or coverage specifically for dogs.