Many dog lovers think of their pets as family and may overlook their natural instincts, but just about any dog has the potential to bite, especially when fearful. More than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. The most frequent victims are small children, the elderly, and letter carriers.
The responsibility for training a dog and controlling its behavior lies with the owner, who could be held liable for injuries and property damage caused by the pet. A dog owner might have to reimburse an injured person for his or her medical bills, time off from work, and even pain and suffering.
Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically include general liability that would cover dog bites, up to policy limits, but a policyholder could be on the hook for damages and legal fees in excess of the coverage amounts if someone is seriously injured. Some insurance policies may also exclude certain dog breeds.
Once a dog has bitten someone, insurance may become more costly, or dog liability could be excluded from coverage. If you have a dog, you may want to review your insurance policies and talk with your agent about whether you have adequate liability protection.
Sources: Insurance Information Institute, 2013; Time.com, May 28, 2013
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