Americans share their homes with nearly 80 million dogs. Many people consider them to be family, treating them almost like they’re human. Most people, however, probably don’t’ think about how their dog figures into their homeowners insurance policy. That’s an oversight that could be costly if your dog acts out and causes injury or other damage.
If your pet causes harm, you could be subject to criminal charges and/or lawsuits. Your dog could end up on your community’s dangerous dog list, which could bring greater scrutiny to your household. If your dog causes harm again, not only could you end up paying two to three times the fines for an additional offense, your dog would likely need to be put down. In addition to the fees and fines, you could be required to pay for medical bills, lost income, property damage, and more.
Properly Insure Your Property
If you have a homeowners’ insurance or renters’ insurance policy, you are most likely covered for such liabilities in the case of a dog bite. In fact, dog bites are some of the most common claims reported. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about one-third of all homeowners’ insurance claims are related to dog bites, with an average payout of nearly $30,000 for each claim.
Before getting a policy or switching to a new one, though, you should check out the company’s dog underwriting rules, as some will not insure households with certain breeds of dog. Some of the breeds of dogs that often appear on such lists are pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and German shepherds, though each list varies from company to company. If your dog is a breed found often on such dangerous dog list, we may have to check with a few different companies to find one that’s right for you and your family.
Take Appropriate Precautions
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what breed of dog you have, from a poodle to a Pyrenees, dogs are our companions but they can be unpredictable – and a liability. There’s more to covering your assets than simply buying a good insurance policy. If insurance is your defense, being a responsible dog owner is your offensive line to fend off potential biting threats.
Practicing responsible dog ownership reduced the chances of biting and is good for everyone – you, your dog and anyone who might happen to encounter your dog. Being a responsible owner means a variety of things. First, it means keeping your dog under control, whether it’s with collars, tethers or fences, and teaching your dog to listen to commands. Have your dog spayed or neutered to neutralize hormone-related aggression. Socialize them with both pets and people so they are more likely to be good dogs when meeting strangers. Be aware of, avoid, or minimize common aggression triggers, which could include loud noises, crowds, unfamiliar places, and more. If your dog ever shows aggression, get ahead of the problem by seeking professional help from an animal behaviorist, even if there’s no injury.
Important Note About Dogs and Kids
Kids and dogs seem like a perfect match, but they aren’t. Kids often don’t understand dog body language and that can be a recipe for trouble. Statistics have shown that about half of people who need medical attention following a dog bite are children. Kids between the ages of five and nine account for the majority of injuries. All interactions between kids and dogs should be supervised. To further reduce the likelihood of a dog bite, adults should learn about dog bite prevention and teach children about it, too.
If this article scared you a little, please don’t let it and certainly don’t get rid of your dog over it. Dog bites that result in injury serious enough to warrant medical care are incredibly rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and fewer than 20% of those bites require medical treatment. That means about 1% of dogs are ever in this position. Simply get the proper insurance, take precautions, and enjoy the company of your furry friend.
Noah Insurance Group has locations in Amery, Osceola, Cumberland, Stillwater, and Forest Lake. Our agency began in 1982 as an independent agency. Because of this we maintain relationships and are familiar with products from a number of reputable insurers, which often results in lower prices and more choice for our clients. Benefit from our years of experience. We can advise you and find a reputable insurance company that offers the kind and amount of insurance you need.