Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites? The Low-Down on Liability

Could your dog bite someone? If your first thought was no, think again. All dogs are capable of biting under the right – or wrong – circumstances. According to the CDC, approximately 4.7 million dog bites occurred in a single year, and 800,000 of these bites required medical attention. If your dog bites someone, you could be sued. Thankfully, as long as you have homeowners insurance, there’s a good chance you’ll be covered.

Coverage for Dog Bites

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they’re also a huge liability at times. Dog bites can also happen very quickly, when someone enters your home or property, or if your dog gets out. As a result, dog bite claims are both common.

They’re also expensive. A dog bite can result in serious injury or even death. Medical care is often need, both to deal with the injury and to prevent infection and disease. This medical care can be expensive, and the victim may sue the dog owner for compensation. When this happens, defense costs add to the expense.

Dog owners need to make sure they have adequate insurance coverage. Dog bites are also typically covered by homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance policies don’t just protect your house and your belongings. These policies also provide liability coverage. If someone is injured on your property, for example, your homeowners insurance will likely cover the claim. Likewise, if your dog bites someone, your homeowners insurance may provide coverage.

Common Exclusions

Although homeowners insurance policies typically provide liability insurance that includes coverage for dog bites, it’s important to read your policy carefully. The policy details can vary, and there may be exclusions.

For example, your homeowners insurance policy may cover dog bites, but certain breeds may be excluded. Some dog breeds are considered more dangerous and likely to bite. If your dog belongs to one of these breeds, check your policy to see whether it’s covered.

Additionally, dogs with a history of biting may be excluded. This means that if your dog has ever bitten anyone or shown other signs of aggression in the past, future dog bites might not be covered.  

To make sure you’re covered, talk to your insurance agent about your dog and your insurance policy.

Safety Tips

Preventing dog bites is in everyone’s best interest. Dog owners are responsible for their pets, and they can take steps to make dog bites less likely.

  • Have your dog spayed or neutered. According to the CDC, dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered dogs are more likely to bite than dogs that are spayed or neutered.
  • Fence your yard. Keep dogs contained in a controlled environment. This minimizes the chance of unexpected situations.
  • Vaccinate your dog. If a dog bite occurs, you may need to prove that your dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination.
  • Socialize your dog. This will help ensure that your dog is used to being around people and knows how to behave.
  • Train your dog. Some dog training sessions with an expert dog trainer may be worthwhile.
  • Never leave children around dogs unsupervised. Children may try to play with the dog by pulling its tail, for example, and this can cause the dog to respond with irritation and even aggression.
  • Obey leash laws. In many areas, dogs must be on leashes when taken on walks. Letting your dog run free could increase the chance of a dog bite. It could also increase the risk of your dog getting hit by a car or lost.

Need a homeowners or renters insurance quote? Get one here.

Sources
  • https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00047723.htm

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