How does your homeowners insurance and dog bites work? According to ASPCA statistics, at least half the households in the USA have a pet, and as expected, most of them are dogs and cats, of which about 90 million are dogs. We all love our faithful canine friends, and consider them a member of the family. However, many homeowner’s insurance companies do not usually have that perspective.
Usually, homeowner’s insurance covers any damage to your home, including things inside, and also the possible damages if something happens to someone on your property. But if something happens to your dog, whether it bites someone or causes damage to someone else’s property, are you sure your homeowner’s insurance will cover it?
Although people are becoming more conscientious about the training and education of dogs, the number of people bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year is increasing, and last year there were approximately 4.5 million reported cases, which resulted in nearly $800 million in insurance premiums. That’s why insurers are stricter about covering liability expenses that may arise if your dog bites or causes damage to your neighbor’s home.
Home Owners Insurance and Dog Bites History
All insurance companies handle their policies under their conditions. Therefore, there may be a possibility that they will not cover dog bites if your dog, unfortunately, has a history of bites, as the chances are very high that he will bite again. Because every insurance company has its own conditions, a dog that seems a high risk to one company may not be to another.
Homeowners Insurance and Dog Bites Exclusion
According to Insurance Information Institute statistics, last year happened 17,802 dog bite reclaims, which cost to insurance companies approximately $800 million. Because these incidents occur so frequently, insurance companies are looking for ways to reduce their risk. To do this, they exclude certain breeds that they consider dangerous and that represent a high risk, among the best known are:
- Siberian Husky
- Pit bull
- Among other breeds.
These breeds are generally banned because they are considered vicious and unsafe. However, certain insurance companies evaluate each case on a case-by-case basis, regardless of race.
Homeowners Insurance and Dog Bites Off-Property Laws
If your dog bites someone outside your home in most cases, your homeowner’s liability insurance will cover the bite. But what can happen if your dog bites someone outside your property? Will this inconvenience affect you as damage by making you responsible? Because in most of the country when someone invades your property, you are not responsible if your dog attacks them.
The issue of your dog attacking or biting off your property is complicated. There is a possibility that you will be covered even if the event happens far from your property, elsewhere, such as in a park, on the beach, among other places. Now, there are situations in which you can be held responsible for the bite, whether it occurs on your property or off it. There are three types of laws in which you would be liable:
- There is the case in which you are liable for any type of damage, which your dog causes, whether it is an injury or particular damage to property. This is called a dog bite.
- In various parts of the country, the owner is not held responsible for the first bite the dog takes, this is called the one-bite rule.
- And finally, if the owner is careless or is not able to handle the dog and it causes a bite, he will be held responsible. This is called the law of negligence.
So it will depend on these factors listed above whether or not your insurance will cover bites generated by your dog off your property, in addition to the extent you may be liable for the incident. For example, there may be a case where you let your dog out on the street without a leash to control it, and while it is out on the street, the dog attacks someone away from your property, so you may be held liable under the negligence law.
If you take your dog out on a leash and have control of it and an incident occurs in which the dog bites or assaults someone, there is a good chance that you are covered, even if you are not on your property. In these cases, they tend to take a lot of notice of what kind of breed your dog is.
It should be clear that the coverage’s provided are for legal liability, that is, if there is a case where your dog has bitten someone, and you are responsible, you will be covered whether the incident occurred on or off your property. Therefore, this type of incident does not have to occur on your property for your liability to be covered.
We always have to be clear that acquiring a dog can be one of the best things that happen to us in life, but with this, we forget the amount of responsibility that comes with it. We can’t always be sure that our pet will behave well, we know that these beautiful animals need good training and a lot of patience to ensure that when interacting with other people and dogs, no incident occurs.
If you find yourself a victim of a dog bite in the greater Houston area, make sure you acquire an experienced dog bite attorney to handle your case.