Get schooled on dog bite liability
Your pets may have pet insurance to keep them healthy. But when it comes to liability for their misdeeds, the financial impact will bite into your wallet.
This is Dog Bite Prevention Week, and the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds us that even nice dogs can bite. Dog bites (and other dog-related injuries) accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing in excess of $570 million, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.
While the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased last year, the average cost per claim was up 16 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $37,214 in 2015. The cost per average claim keeps rising due to increased medical costs, as well as increasing settlement amounts given to plaintiffs.
State laws differ on dog bite liability. Generally, the pet owners are liable if they knew Fido or Fifi was prone to biting. Florida dog bite liability law say you are as liable for the dog’s behavior as you are for your own, particularly if someone is lawfully on your property. Think mail carrier. In fact, the United States Postal Service reports that more than 6,500 postal workers were attacked by dogs last year.
Some insurers put a limit on the how much they’ll pay for a dog bite claim, and some may not want to offer homeowners insurance to owners of certain breeds of aggressive dogs. Keep in mind that once a dog has bitten someone, it poses an increased risk. Insurers may then charge a higher premium since the risk is clearly obvious. Or, they may nonrenew the homeowner’s insurance policy or exclude the dog from coverage.
While loving your dog may seem to be enough, nothing says love more than sending your pet to the best schools.