Homeowner Insurance Considerations When Buying or Adopting a Dog

When buying a new home or switching insurance providers, it is important to review the details of the insurance policy for the home.  Often, homeowners only pay attention to the yearly premium, amount of coverage for possible damage to the home and deductible amount.  These are important considerations when purchasing an insurance policy, but ignoring exclusions may place a home owner at a great deal of liability risk.  If you own a dog, you should pay close attention to any exclusions for coverage relating to dog bites.  Otherwise, you might have a lawsuit filed against you with no insurance coverage if your dog injures someone.

 

There are several different types of dog bite exclusions that insurance companies may have in their policies.  This article will cover the different types of exclusions and your potential options if you are presented with one of the exclusions.

 

Common Dog Bite Exclusions in Policies

 

All Dog Attacks Exclusion

 

The most expansive exclusion of coverage is the exclusion denying coverage for any animal related injury.  This exclusion states that the insurance provider will not provide coverage to the homeowner for any of his or her animals that cause injury to another person or animal.  Thus, it does not matter what type of breed or circumstances surrounding the injury caused by the animal, there is no insurance coverage. 

 

Dangerous Dog Exclusion

 

This exclusion excludes coverage for dogs that the insurance company deems as “dangerous.”  This type of exclusion provides a list of breeds that are not covered under the insurance policy.  This exclusion always includes language that mixed breed dogs that contain an excluded breed are also excluded from coverage.  Common excluded breeds are the following: Pit Bull, Staffordshire Terrier, Alaskan Malamute, Doberman, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Akita, Chow Chow, German Shepherd, Presa Canario, Wolf hybrids, and Mastiff.   If the dog does not contain any of the listed excluded breeds, the homeowner insurance policy will provide coverage for the dog attack.

 

Some policies also include language excluding coverage for any dog that has a history of attacking or biting and causing injury to people or animals.  Dogs trained for fighting are also usually excluded in these policies.

 

Dog Bite Policy Amount Limit

 

Some policies do not exclude coverage for a dog bite, but they limit the amount the insurance company will pay for the claim.  These types of policies usually limit the liability coverage to $25,000.  These policies usually have $100,000, $300,000 or more for general liability coverage with the coverage limited to only $25,000 for injuries relating to animals. Many dog bite claims are worth more than $25,000, so this limited coverage places the dog owner at risk for personal responsibility for a dog bite claim.

 

What if My Insurance Policy Contains a Dog Bite Exclusion?

 

If your insurance policy contains a dog bite exclusion, you have several options to protect yourself.  First, you can ask the sales agent to provide you with a policy that does not have the dog bite exclusion.  If the insurance company refuses to remove the dog bite exclusion, you have a second option of changing insurance providers.  If you cannot find an insurance provider that will provide coverage for your dog under your renter’s or homeowner’s policy, you have a third option.  Third, you may purchase dog liability insurance for your pet.  This type of insurance is also called canine liability insurance.  Canine liability insurance provides coverage for any personal injury or property damage caused by the dog that is covered under the policy. 

 

 Dog Bite Attorney

 

The O’Hara Law Firm represents victims of dog bite attacks.  Several different law firms in Texas and across the country have referred dog bite victims to the O’Hara Law Firm for representation.  If you have been injured by a dog, contact the O’Hara Law Firm to discuss your potential claim.  The O’Hara Law Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. 

Posted in Dog Bites

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