Insurance companies don’t really hate dogs
But they do hate the claims that they must pay for dog-related claims. According to Insurance Information Institute, dog bites and other dog-related injuries generally account for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims. The average cost for a dog-related claim has increased more than 70% in the last 15 years due to increased medical costs and settlements/judgments given to plaintiffs.
At an average cost of over $33,000, dog-related claims are a growing problem for insurance companies. To limit their exposure, insurance companies may decide to restrict the breeds of dogs they are willing to insured or even opt not to offer insurance to dog owners in general.
Who let the dogs out?
It is important that dog owners know what their liability exposure is. In Rhode Island, the owner’s liability for bodily injury or property damage resulting from a dog depends on several factors:
- If the dog is outside the owner’s enclosed area, strict-liability applies and the dog owner is found to be liable without the finding of fault.
- If the dog is inside the owner’s enclosed area, common law applies and the plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew about the dog’s vicious propensities, such as the dog having a known bit history. However, homeowners are typically held liable for injuries sustained on their property, so unless the plaintiff was trespassing, you will likely face some liability even if your dog does not have a bite history.
- Once a dog has a bite history, the owner is can be responsible for double damages and/or destruction of the animal for any future injury.
- Liability applies not only to the owners but to anyone who is a “keeper” of the dog. This means that someone who is watching a dog can also be held liable for any property damage or bodily injury the dog causes.
Don’t accidentally step in it
According to the American Pet Products Association, almost 90 million dogs are owned as pets in the US accounting for 44% of the population. With nearly half of the population owning a dog, it is very important that you get the proper liability coverage to protect yourself. Dog owners should make sure that they have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage to protect themselves from a dog-related claim. If you happen to have a policy that excludes dog-related claims and/or if you have a dog with a bite history, you may want to consider a specific animal liability policy.
It is important that anyone considering purchasing an animal is at least aware of the legal and financial responsibility associated with dog ownership. If you have questions about what is covered and what is not covered in your insurance policy, call Shove Insurance today to discuss your concerns.