In part one of our posts on dog bites and insurance we shared some statistics on just how bad dog bites have become.
In part two today we are going to explain how our Arvada and Denver Metro clients can protect themselves from these types of claims and how your homeowners insurance policy will respond.

Dog Bite Liability

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are three types of laws regarding dog owner liability:
One Bite Rule – In some states, a dog’s first biting incident doesn’t mean an owner will be held liable.  However, any further incidents will usually go punished, especially with dogs that show repeated aggressive behavior.  (Many states are doing away with this law and holding owners liable for all incidents.)
Dog Bite Statute – This law states that dog owners are liable for all injuries or damages resulting from a dog bite, and provocation of the dog is not considered.
Negligence Laws – Some states have ruled that dog owners are liable only if they are careless in controlling their dog.  For example, if a neighbor is bitten by an unrestrained dog when the owner is present will usually be found negligent.  However, for dogs who attack trespassers, the owners are not usually held liable.

Punishment

When dog owners are found liable bites, they typically must reimburse the injured party for medical bills along with lost wages, property damage, and even pain and suffering related to the event.

Insurance Implications

A proper homeowners insurance policy will typically respond to most dog bite claims (as long as the policy is written properly).   And since, most homeowners insurance policies provide anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage, the policy will usually provide enough protection from most claims.
Most insurance companies are willing to provide liability coverage for dog owners (depending upon the breed), but they will usually charge additional premium for it.  Most insurance policies, though, will exclude specific dog breeds that violent or vicious tendencies.   It’s important to work with your Arvada and Denver Metro insurance agent to ensure your policy provides the proper insurance coverage and limits for your dog.

Safety Tips

To help prevent any lawsuits, we also recommend the following safety tips:
 

  • Purchase a muzzle for the dog to wear when introducing it to new people. Many pet stores sell muzzles that flex enough for the dog to drink water, breathe or vomit, so they are not dangerous to the animal.
  • Keep the dog confined while guests are present. Dogs can stay in crates, other rooms or outdoors.
  • Never leave the dog alone with visitors’ children. Dogs think differently than humans and may bite fearful children or timid adults.
  • Enroll the dog in professional behavior training and socialization classes.
  • Have the dog spayed or neutered to reduce hormones related to aggression.