Safety and Liability Tips for Dog Owners

Are you protected as a dog owner?

Are you protected as a dog owner?

We all love our furry friends. Whether your dog is a small Jack Russell Terrier or a giant Great Dane, even normally mild-mannered dogs may bite people. Why? When a dog is scared or feels the need to protect their surroundings (such as their home, food or owner), they can sometimes defend themselves by biting. But what should you do if your dog bites someone on your property? Are you liable for those damages?

The good news is that, in most states, you’re not held liable if your dog bites someone who’s trespassing on your property. Otherwise, most states hold you liable for any bite your dog inflicts on a person who’s in your home or on your property with your permission (or as your guest).

When you look at the statistics, it’s wise to make sure you’re protected as a dog owner:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog, and those injuries to children tend to be more severe.
  • The CDC also reports that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in about 800,000 injuries that need medical attention.
  • Dog bites and related injuries account for about one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. 

Do you have the right homeowner’s insurance coverage?

Many homeowners insurance policies cover dog bites that occur on your property, with anywhere between $25,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. However, if the claim resulting from the dog bite exceeds that limit stated in your policy, then you (as the dog owner) are personally responsible to pay anything above that amount.

Do you need umbrella insurance?

If someone sues you after being bitten by your dog, then your legal costs alone can quickly add up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. An umbrella insurance policy can mitigate this risk by providing additional coverage above and beyond the liability limits stated in your homeowners insurance policy. This additional layer of security can help protect your home and family if an accident occurs or if anyone is injured on your property.

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