America loves its dogs, whose population in U.S. households is estimated at 60 million. While dogs make great companions, playmates, and protectors, they also continue to be a problem for insurers. Nearly two million people are bitten by dogs each year with around 800,000 individuals getting professional medical treatment for their wounds. Each of these incidents is a potential lawsuit.
California’s level of dog ownership continues to grow. Therefore, biting incidents have also climbed. Another factor that contributes to these incidents is that owners often fail to supervise and train their pets. A third big contributor to the problem is that many persons, especially children, do not know how to behave around dogs.
An Issue Of Control
Insurance is still designed to handle accidents, and companies are at a severe disadvantage when policies are asked to respond to losses that are easily avoided. Dog bite claims involve the insured having control over areas such as:
- Choosing the particular breed of dog
- Raising the dog in a certain manner
- Housing the dog in a certain manner
- Exposing the animal to various social situations
- Being knowledgeable about a dog’s temperament
All of the above elements can contribute to lawsuits and to action from an insurer.
The “Policy” On Dogs
If you have homeowners insurance and you own a pet, the liability portion of your policy provides protection for losses arising from pet ownership. Not only are you and your household protected, but coverage even extends to persons who have custody of your pet. However, your policy won’t cover businesses that may have custody of your pet, such as kennels, obedience schools, groomers and professional sitters or walking services (they should carry their own coverage).
Minimizing The Problem
Owners have a responsibility to raise and handle their dogs in a manner that reduces the chance for a loss. Steps to take include becoming knowledgeable about their breed of dog and about general principles of ownership and care. Owners should also take advantage of resources to help them, such as tips from animal shelters, dog ownership clubs, the AKC and a plethora of Internet sources.
It may not be the most fair set of circumstances, but more insurers are choosing not to give dogs the benefit of the doubt. It is becoming more common for companies to refuse to write coverage for persons who own certain breeds of dogs. Therefore, owners must fight this trend by not taking their pet ownership lightly….because insurers aren’t!
If you are thinking about bringing a new dog into your family, give us a call at (949)582-5220 or visit us online at http://swww.sunpacins.com to make sure that the particular breed of dog is covered in your policy.