What If… My Dog Bites Somebody?
Dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend: They keep us company, encourage us to exercise, share our happy moments and comfort us when we are sad. Most owners agree that their dog is part of the family. 39% of American households own at least one dog, says the Humans Society of the United States. Unfortunately, sometimes, dogs bite. In fact, 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog each year, and 900,000 of those require medical care.
The average cost per dog bite is $24,840. According to the III (Insurance Information Institute), dog bites account for over a third of all homeowners liability claims paid out in 2009. Nationwide, these claims added up to $412 million! Yikes! Over the past 7 years, not only the cost per claim, but also the number of claims have been on a steady rise… causing major concern for insurance companies. What does all this have to do with your insurance? A standard renters or homeowners policy will provide liability coverage for dog bites, including reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage .
However, like any claim, a dog bite claim may also affect your insurance rates. Be aware that certain insurance companies exclude coverage for breeds that have a reputation of being aggressive or dangerous (i.e. Pitbull, Doberman, or German Shepherd). It is important that you declare the breed of your dog when you fill out the policy application with your agent. What to do if your dog bites: If your dog bites somebody, restrain your dog immediately. Then, help the victim by calling 911, or drive them to the emergency room. Once the victim is safe and taken care of, you may need to report the incident to the local authorities.
It is also important that you contact your homeowners/renters insurance company as quickly as possible. Don’t wait to see whether the victim will ask for payment of medical bills or sue you. If you don’t report the incident to your insurance company right away, coverage may be denied later on. Be prepared that an adjuster will want to come to investigate the incident. You may be asked to construct a higher or sturdier fence around your property, and/or go through a special training program with your dog to prevent future incidents. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or call us at 281-998-2500 if you have any questions. We here at Elzey Insurance are dog lovers, too!