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Animal Liability and Your Homeowners Insurance

Getting the right coverage for animal liability could save you from bankruptcy.

Your dog is lovable and friendly and wouldn’t harm anyone — or so you think. Even the calmest pets can cause injuries. If a guest trips over them and falls, technically your animal is at fault, and that means you.

animal liability

What Does Your State Say?

Animal liability varies based on where you live. Each state has its own set of laws regarding injuries such as dog bites. For example, some states, Utah included, follow strict liability guidelines. That means even if the animal was provoked into attacking, the owner is still held liable for all injuries.

Other states follow the “one-bite rule.” This means that if the dog has never harmed a person before, the owner isn’t liable for its first offense. But if the dog has already attacked, the owner is responsible.

In other states, owners are only responsible for an animal’s actions if they didn’t responsibly control it.

Dog Bites Are the Most Common Homeowners Insurance Liability Claim

Animal liability typically concerns dog bites, as they are the most common homeowners insurance personal liability claim. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are 4.5 million dog bites every year in the U.S. In 2013, insurance companies paid $483 million to cover dog bite claims. Every year, the cost per claim rises. In 2015, the average cost per claim was $32,000— not an expense you can afford out-of-pocket.

Your Company Might Exclude Certain Breeds

Beware: While homeowners insurance typically includes a certain amount of animal liability coverage, your policyholder may exclude certain dog breeds from your coverage allowance. Some of the most dangerous breeds, according to insurance companies, include pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios, mastiffs and boxers. Do you have a dog on that list? You need to check with your insurance policyholder.

Do You Have the Coverage You Need?

Homeowner’s insurance policies usually provide liability coverage up to half of the value of the home. Depending on the breed and size of your dog, you may want to increase your coverage. You can talk to your insurer about upping your animal liability protection to about $300,000, which should be enough to cover extensive medical bills in case of an injury.

If you want more coverage, consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy.

Get Covered and Prevent Injuries

Four Seasons Insurance will help you find the coverage you need to ensure your animal liability protection safeguards your assets. Also, take steps to prevent your pet from causing injuries. It’s up to you to make sure you safely and responsibly train and contain your animal.

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