IFM Says Man’s Best Friend Doesn’t Have to be an Insurance Liability

April 28, 2005

Dog owners need to be sure they do more than put food and water out each day for their pooch. They need to understand their potential liability if their dog bites someone, according to the Insurance Federation of Minnesota (IFM).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites per year. These bites cost more than $1 billion, with the property/casualty industry paying roughly $345.5 million in 2002. That year, almost 1/4 of all homeowners insurance liability claims were dog-bite related.

“As a responsible pet owner, there are steps a dog owner should take to minimize the risk that their dog might bite someone. One important step is to have a homeowners insurance policy with adequate liability coverage limits,” said Al Parsons, IFM president and CEO. “Talk to your agent to make sure you are properly protected.”

Dog owner’s liability

Any dog can hurt someone. Even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when protecting their puppies, owners, or food.

If an individual’s dog bites someone, they are responsible for the expenses and damages. Most insurance companies sell homeowners and renters insurance policies that cover dog bite liability, with most policies providing $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage. If the claim is under the limit, an individual’s policy will pay. If it exceeds the limit, they are responsible for all damages above that amount, including legal expenses.

The Insurance Information Institute warns against getting a dog for the
purpose of guarding a home.

Deadbolt locks and home security systems are good burglary deterrents and often will get individuals a discount on their insurance premium.

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