Summer Safety – What you need to know about dogs & insurance

By: Advocate Brokerage

Dogs truly are man’s best friend! Who else loves you unconditionally and is always happy to see you when you come home at the end of a long day? It’s hard to imagine that your furry family member would ever bite someone, but the truth is that most dog bites, especially those affecting young children, happen during normal activities with dogs they know. Additionally, dog bite incidents do occur more in the summer months so we thought we would share some important information that every dog owner needs to understand.

According to the CDC, there are an estimated 4.5 million dog bites each year in the US, of which more than 800,000 receive medical attention.

In this blog we will discuss:

  • Why dogs bite
  • How to prevent dog bites
  • How a dog bite incident could affect your family
  • What to do if your dog bites someone
  • If your homeowner’s insurance covers when your dog bites someone

Why Do Dogs Bite?
Dogs bite for several reasons. It could be a territory issue, it could be because they are stressed, they could be scared, they could be in pain, they could even be hot. The important thing is to pay attention to the signs that a dog may be feeling uncomfortable and do all you can to prevent a dog bite incident from happening in the first place!

How Can I Prevent Dog Bites?
As a dog owner, you want to be responsible and protect not only your family, friends and neighbors from the threat of a dog bite, you want to protect your puppy to make sure they feel safe and relaxed.  Below are some things you can do to prevent dog bites from happening:

  • Make sure your puppy has gone through basic dog training.
  • Properly socialize your dog by exposing them to as many different situations as possible.
  • Inside of the home, create safe zones. Baby gates, and dog crates are wonderful tools.
  • Outside of the home, keep dogs on a leash or in a fenced area.
  • Pay attention when other people are around and if you see any warning signs, remove your furry friend from the situation if possible.
  • We also recommend that you stay up to date on your dog’s rabies vaccine.

How Can A Dog Bite Incident Affect My Family?
Dog liability claims are common and when a serious injury has occurred, large settlements are a possibility.

What Should I Do If My Dog Bites Someone?
Remain calm! Dogs pick up on their owners’ emotions so being upset will only make the situation worse.  First, contain the dog and once they are safely removed, assist the victim.  Suggest that they wash the wound (if possible) with soap and warm water and encourage them to seek medical attention right away.

Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
Most conventional homeowners insurance policies cover dog bite claims but not all policies cover them equally. Additionally, payment varies depending on whether your dog bites a person or another dog.  In general, companies limit payments on dog bites involving another dog.  Awards are often limited to the cost of replacing the dog, even if the costs of caring for the medical injuries exceed the value of the dog itself.

Most main-stream insurance carriers, have a doggie blacklist that includes Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chows, Akitas, and Huskies. Our business partnership with elite carriers allows for coverage for most breeds of dogs. However, keep in mind that once your dog has bitten someone, your insurance could be in jeopardy.  If your dog bites twice, you can expect your insurance to be cancelled at the earliest legal time unless you make the difficult decision to part with the dog. When this unpleasant situation occurs, the choice of conventional insurers will be non-existent, leaving Lloyd’s-type policies that will exclude dog bites.

Educating each client we serve is an important part of Advocate Brokerage’s mission. If you have a dog, seriously consider adding a Personal Umbrella Policy to protect you in the event that you are sued and the settlement higher than the limit on your homeowner’s limit. If you have any additional questions regarding the family pet, please get in touch with us at 914-723-7100. We are always happy to answer any specific questions. Oh, and please, go tell your best friend he’s a good boy (or girl)!

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