If you’re a dog owner, you don’t want to receive a phone call or letter from Paul Cannon. It means your pooch is in trouble. Paul is an attorney who represents people who have been bitten or injured by dogs. But Dogster spoke to Paul, and his inside information could save you from a devastating insurance shocker.
Does your policy cover dogs?
Do you think you are covered if your dog causes any type of injury or damage? Paul says he’s had bite cases where the dog owner made a claim just to get a canine curveball: your insurance company won’t cover it.
“The company will be sending a letter saying, ‘I’m sorry, you have no cover for dog bites.’ Your reason for this will be because they either have a clause in the policy that specifically says, “This breed of dog is excluded,” or a clause that says, “We don’t cover dog bites at all.” They may also have a clause that says, which is so broad that the directive does not cover any injuries to animals, ”says Paul.
How could that happen? Experts say that dog owners may not have asked enough questions about what their insurance covers, or that the policy may have changed when it was renewed.
“Nobody is going to stop and read an entire homeowners policy. It’s very easy to go from one reporting to one that is not the same, ”says Paul. “It’s scary because you can accidentally drop your cover.”
Dog owner Dannielle L. had this scary moment. She recently decided to ask her insurance agent if her homeowner policy covers her pooches. She was stunned to learn it never happened.
“I was very surprised,” says Dannielle. “I assumed pets were part of the coverage.”
She immediately bought additional insurance for her dogs that cost about $ 40 a year. “I was so relieved to have it in case something ever happens,” she says.
Dog liability insurance
If your tenant or homeowner insurance doesn’t cover your dog, you may need pet insurance.
“It covers you when your dog damages someone else’s property or injures someone. You are responsible for your pets, ”says Janet Ruiz of the Insurance Information Institute.
John L. had to pay between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000 per year for dog liability insurance and bought new homeowner insurance after an incident with one of his dogs.
“Our dogs were playing and a door-to-door salesman came down our long driveway. My wife waved her hands and shouted, “No! No! Don’t come here and the dogs started barking, ”he says.
But the seller kept approaching, past the invisible fence line of the dogs. “My wife told him to retire, but he didn’t. One of the dogs nibbled his leg and tore his pants, ”says John. “I was angry with the person who came into my garden.”
John says the salesman went to the hospital. The skin on his leg was easily broken. He didn’t need any stitches and wasn’t seriously injured.
A week later, he filed a claim with John’s Homeowners Insurance. His company paid the debt, but then did not renew John’s policy because of the bite.
“I was shocked. I was a customer for at least 12 years,” says John. “I’ve never been entitled to the dog or anything.”
Limitation of Your Liability
Deborah J. Turner is the President of the Dean Insurance Agency, which sells dog liability insurance. Policies range from $ 175 to more than $ 1,000 per year, depending on your dog and your situation. Your best advice: be smart and try to avoid problems. Do not put your dog in a situation where he could harm someone.
“I don’t care how well trained your dog is. I don’t care what pretty clothes they wear. I don’t care that they are 8 years old and have never bitten anyone, ”says Deborah. “Don’t tell people, ‘My dog is going to lick you to death. ‘Don’t say, “My dog is only 7 pounds.” Risk management is a better solution. “
Insiders say to train your dog when they are not behaving appropriately and expect the unexpected. You have seen situations where dogs pinch, scratch, jump, or scare someone who then trips, falls, or is knocked over and injured.
“I’ve seen cases where a cute, small, fluffy dog bit someone in the face for jumping in the dog’s face,” says Paul. “I’ve seen bite cases where someone dropped a utensil and leaned down to get it while the dog was under the table trying to get scrap.”
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Don’t get caught without it
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite claim is nearly $ 45,000. “We see tragic cases where they’re higher and we’ve seen deaths,” says Janet.
Experts say that not having insurance to cover damage can be catastrophic. “It can put you in a situation where you would have to file for bankruptcy based on a judgment. It could ruin you financially, ”says Paul.
Even a small dog’s bite in a vulnerable area can result in expensive medical bills. “I’ve seen people bite their lip and have language problems because of the development of scar tissue. They may have to do multiple operations to get their speech back to normal, ”Paul adds.
Janet recommends an annual checkup with her insurance agent. “Pets would be one aspect of that, and if your policy doesn’t cover your dog, ask for umbrella or dog liability insurance,” she says.
Be honest with your insurance agent. “If you have a dog that is nibbling or biting, ask the agent, ‘Will this policy cover this? Do I have to get other coverage? ‘”Says Paul.
The insurance also protects you from people unfamiliar with dogs, as in John’s case. “It’s sad that people don’t pay attention to warning signs,” he says. “Our property has been attacked. We cannot control people who do stupid things. “
Dannielle says that one of her dogs may be anxious so insurance will give her peace of mind. “I don’t think she’d ever bite, but now I know I’m covered.”
Tips for homeowners
❥ Get a privacy fence to hold a physical barrier between your dog and strangers – a mature situation for dog bites. This prevents unskilled dog people from walking up to your dogs or a child from trying to reach through a clear fence to pet your dog.
❥ Put a padlock on the gate so that no one can easily walk in like the service staff who accidentally mistake your house for that of your neighbor or a stranger cutting through your garden.
❥ If your front yard isn’t fenced, keep dogs on leashes or inside to prevent dog bites from visitors or deliverers entering your property. Postal services require that dogs be restrained or kept indoors when mail is delivered. If your dog is easy going, the postman might not deliver your mail and you might have to pick it up at the post office.
❥ Do you have a porch? Gate it. This provides an extra level of security by preventing your dog from escaping and letting stray dogs, strangers, or deliverers have access to your dog while they relax with you on the porch.