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BellaOnline's Insurance Editor

Insurance for the Dog Owner

Every dog owner needs to have homeowner insurance or renters insurance that (a) provides coverage for, and does not exclude, injuries inflicted by dogs or animals in general, and (b) has a limit of at least $100,000 for personal liability. This type of insurance will enable the dog owner's insurance company to pay an appropriate amount of compensation for all but the most severe accidents caused by a dog.

Every dog owner is exposed to possible liability for dog bites and other canine-inflicted injuries. Dogs bite nearly five million Americans every year, children are the victims of the most serious attacks, and the annual losses equal approximately $1 Billion.

These losses do not have to be borne by the dog owners and victims, because insurance is available to pay for it. It is recommended that dog owners have higher limits, such as $1 million, through either their homeowners and renters policies or by an "umbrella" policy. It is very inexpensive to obtain an umbrella policy.

The good news for dog owners, accident victims and society is that homeowners insurance and renters insurance normally provide at least $100,000.00 in benefits for victims.

Other types of insurance also afford protection for the insureds. Examples include:

-Automobile liability insurance, which may cover dog bites that happen in a
-Landlord insurance that protects the landlord (but not the tenants) from
claims that result from the actions of renters' dogs, and
-Workers compensation coverage which may apply to bites and injuries that
happen "on the job."

At present, however, the insurance industry is attempting to sell homeowner insurance policies that exclude dog-inflicted injuries. Some insurance companies refuse to sell homeowner insurance to the owners of breeds of dogs that have a reputation for biting, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas and Chow-Chows. Other insurers refuse to sell to anyone who owns any dog whatsoever.

No dog owner should purchase a homeowner policy or renters policy that excludes canine-inflicted injuries, unless he or she buys a supplemental policy that covers them.

The insurance industry also is quietly revising homeowner policies that protected dog owners when they originally bought those policies. Homeowners must carefully read all of the short slips of paper and other notices sent from insurers, in case they eliminate coverage for accidents caused by dogs. If that happens, a dog owner must get a different policy or an umbrella that provides both the coverage plus higher limits of protection.

The limit of coverage is stated in your policy declarations, which is the personalized page that lists your name and gives monetary information.
The insurance also provides you with an attorney and pays all court costs if you are sued.

Your insurance policy also probably has "medical payments coverage" (or something similarly worded). This gives you further protection if your dog bites or injuries someone. It pays for that person's medical bills up to a certain limit.

Finally, your insurance policy also probably has "property damage coverage" (or something similarly worded). This provides additional coverage for torn clothing, broken glasses and other property damage losses sustained by the victim.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Denise M. Castille. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Denise M. Castille. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Denise M. Castille for details.

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