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By: Wayne S. Melnick
While many dog owners merely assume liability for their pets are covered under their home owner’s insurance, new data would suggest dog owners should think twice. According to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, the average liability claim for a dog-related injury in 2014 was $32,072. According to a recent article in USA Today, dog-related injury claims accounted for more than one-third of the money that homeowners insurance companies paid out on liability claims that year. That same article notes that while many homeowners and renters insurance policies include liability protection that still cover dogs, some insurers charge more to insure certain breeds, such as pit bulls, or ask customers to sign liability waivers for dog bites. However, some insurers lower the liability limits for dog-related injuries or exclude dog-related injuries altogether.
This development has spawned a cottage industry of coverage for dog-related liability. There is even a specific website, www.dogbitequote.com, which provides insurance quotes for just these types of liability claims.
In light of the increasing amount of restrictions and exclusions, when a dog-bite liability claim is received, it is incumbent upon insurers to review their forms to ensure such a claim is covered; or otherwise not specifically excluded from coverage. Even if there is coverage, it is worthwhile inquiring with the insured as to whether they have purchased separate dog-bite liability insurance that might even be primary.