Man’s best friend is the cause of more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015.  Learn how to reduce your chances of your dog biting someone.

DogBitesYour pet is a member of the family, and you most likely shower it with unconditional love and perhaps treat it like family. Insurance carriers, on the other hand, view your pet (no matter how cute) objectively and as a liability risk.  So if you’ve ever wondered why your agent asks you if you have a dog when providing you a quote for your homeowners insurance, it’s because they know that even the best-trained animals can be unpredictable.

Dog bites (and other dog-related injuries) accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing in excess of $570 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) In fact, the cost of dog-bite claims for U.S. insurers climbed 16 percent last year on higher medical expenses and larger settlements to resolve court disputes. The average claim increased to $37,214 in 2015 from $32,072 a year earlier.

The I.I.I. believes that the trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not simply to dog bites, but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., all of which can result in fractures and other blunt force trauma injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses. Another factor might be the surge in U.S. Post Office worker attacks, many of which take place at the customer’s door.

Even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when defending their puppies, owners or food. However, the best way to protect yourself is to prevent your dog from biting anyone in the first place. The most dangerous dogs are those that fall victim to human shortcomings such as poor training, irresponsible ownership and breeding practices that foster viciousness.

Taking the following steps can reduce the chances of your dog biting someone:

  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. A dog with a history of aggression is inappropriate in a household with children.
  • Keep the family dog secured if a stranger comes to your door.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful of or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
  • Socialize your dog so it knows how to act with other animals and people.
  • Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Be cautious when exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response.
  • Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
  • Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists or responsible breeders if your dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

Hopefully proper training and care of your dog will help you, your family, friends and strangers avoid a future tragedy or injury. To protect your financial security you will want to make sure you have proper homeowners insurance coverage in place. Please contact our office if you have questions about your policy or how your dog will affect your rates. The only way to know for sure how your pet will affect coverage is to speak with one of our agents or insurance team.
Source: Insurance Information Institute