How does homeowners’ insurance factor into dog bites?

Firm News On Wednesday, February 4, 2015

As seen in recent news, Connecticut lawmakers are reviewing a proposal that aims to prevent homeowners’ insurance companies from discriminating against the owners of certain breeds of dogs. That is because certain animals may pose a bigger threat of attacking someone, causing damages for which the insurance policy often pays.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one dog bite in every five instances will result in an injury that will need medical attention. Even more frightening is that about half of those injuries will affect children.

If a dog bites you and the pet’s owner has insurance, your medical care may be covered by the policy. However, the policy will typically only pay out the full amount if the attack occurred on the pet owner’s property. Often, there may be a reduced coverage for incidents that take place at a park or while the animal is on a walk. It is also possible that the policy will exclude an attack that happens in a vehicle.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average cost of an animal bite claim is dropping, but the numbers of claims has been rising steadily since 2010. The institute notes that dog bites make up more than one-third of all the homeowners’ insurance claims that are filed every year. In fact, in 2013, such claims cost more than $483 million.

In circumstances in which a homeowner’s policy will not cover the full cost of an injury, you may bring legal action against the owner of the animal. This would mean that, if found responsible, the owners will have to pay for damages out of their own pockets.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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