A Guide to Preventing Dog Bite Claims
According to the Insurance Information Institute, over $400 million a year is paid out for dog bite claims each year by insurance companies. While that may seem like a lot, there is an estimated $600 million that was excess over the home insurance policy limits. Protecting yourself with sufficient limits, as well as considering an umbrella insurance policy, could help you avoid any out-of-pocket expenses should your pooch bite someone.
Owning a dog can be and usually is a joyous union. Dogs can become aggravated or agitated by small children pulling their hair, tail or stepping on them. It is important to watch your pet and never leave a dog alone around small children. While a dog may be provoked, it is still your responsibility to ensure your pet does not bite someone. While most claims are from small bites and only require first aid, the lasting damage can still be severe such as nerve damage in hands or feet.
The Insurance Information Institute states that there are 3 kinds of laws regarding pet liability:
- Dog-bite statute: The dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes, even without provocation.
- “One-bite” rule: In some states, the owner is not held liable for the first bite the dog inflicts. Once an animal has demonstrated vicious behavior, such as biting or otherwise displaying a ‘vicious propensity’, the owner can be held liable. Some states have moved away from the one-bite rule and hold owners responsible for any injury, regardless of whether the animal has previously bitten someone.
- Negligence laws: The dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because he or she was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.
While it is important to understand your state laws regarding dog bite liability, the best course is prevention.
The Humane Society lists several ways to avoid being bitten by a dog. Because dogs can’t tell you what their thinking, it is important to watch the dogs body language. Some signs the dog may be uncomfortable include:
- Stiff tail
- Pulled back ears
- Intense stare
- Backing away
- Dog is visibly injured
- Don’t take toys away quickly
If someone asks if they may pet your dog, ask them politely to let the dog smell them first to ensure the dog is comfortable with it. If your dog reacts negatively to someone, it is okay to tell that person it isn’t a good idea.
We hope that your pup never bites someone, but unfortunately it does happen. Ensuring that your home insurance limits are sufficient and also carrying an excess liability policy called an umbrella insurance policy may help protect your pocketbook in the unfortunate event.
If you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at Wycoff Insurance in Mount Vernon, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.