Dog Bites occur every 1.5 Minutes
While dogs make great companions, playmates, and protectors, they also continue to be a problem for your California home insurance coverage. Nearly two million people are bitten by dogs each year with around 800,000 people requiring professional medical treatment for their wounds. Each of these incidents is a potential lawsuit.
Have Teeth, Will Bite
Millions of U.S. households own dogs and biting incidents keep climbing. There are many factors that contribute to these biting incidents. One is the failure of dog owners to supervise and train their dogs. Another is that many people, especially children, do not know how to behave around dogs. Bites may occur when:
- a person stares at a dog, which the animal perceives as a threat or challenge
- people attempt to handle dogs during sensitive moments (while a dog is trying to eat, has a chew bone or while nursing puppies)
- someone unfamiliar invade a dog’s territory
- “rough-housing” with a dog escalates beyond playing.
An Issue of Control
Insurance is still designed to handle accidents, and companies are at a severe disadvantage when policies are asked to respond to losses that are easily avoided. Dog bite claims involve the owner having control over areas such as:
- choosing to own a dog
- choosing the particular breed of dog
- raising the dog in a certain manner
- housing the dog in a certain manner
- exposing the animal to various social situations
- being knowledgeable about a dog’s temperament and inclination to bite or attack.
All of the above factors can contribute to lawsuits and to action from an insurer.
The “Policy” On Dogs
If you have homeowners insurance and you own a pet, the liability portion of your policy provides protection for losses arising from pet ownership. The good news is that not only are you and your household protected, but coverage even extends to persons who have custody of your pet. However, your policy won’t cover businesses that may have custody of your pet, such as kennels, obedience schools, groomers and professional sitters or walking services (they should carry their own coverage). Also, coverage could become a problem if dogs in a home are related with unreported, in-home businesses. Losses involving persons who are bitten while in a home for business reasons may not be covered.
Written by: Rhonda Remland