UNINSURED DOG OWNERS BEWARE
Westchester, New York, 08/08/12 — Dogs bite more than 4.7 million Americans each year—and one of every six of those requires medical attention—yet many pet owners are not properly insured against this potentially expensive liability, says Peter Merritt, of Kirkwood, Pleasantville, New York.
“Homeowners and renters who own dogs should never go without liability insurance, which is part of most standard homeowners or renters policies, or they may be in for a rude awakening if sued,” says Merritt. The insurance industry estimates that one-third of all homeowners’ liability insurance claims may be related to dogs.
Many home-based business owners and renters are at particular financial risk when their dogs bite. “Because homeowners’ policies exclude coverage for business-related losses, an in-home entrepreneur without business insurance may not be covered if sued by a customer who was bitten by the entrepreneur’s family dog,” Merritt cautioned. Renters also are subject to higher risk because many people who rent are still uninsured for personal property losses and liability claims. Some mistakenly believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover their losses.
Owners whose pets are among the more aggressive breeds such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, or those with dogs that have demonstrated aggressive tendencies, may want to purchase an umbrella liability policy which provides increased coverage in case of an attack. But others should be cautious as well, says Merritt. All dog owners should be cautious around children: They represent more than half of all dog bite victims—which usually occur in the face, from dogs owned by family or friends.
“Dog owners need to be aware of the financial as well as physical implications of letting dogs roam free and of not taking precautions to prevent injuries, even at home,” says Merritt. It is estimated that 70% of attacks occur on the dog owners’ property.
Leash and muzzle laws vary from state to state as do owner liability. Consumers should be aware of the presence of such statutes and the potential legal and financial repercussions of disregarding them. In many cases, a dog doesn’t actually have to bite someone for the owner to be liable for a victim’s injury. On the other hand, the owner may not be liable for injuries caused by an animal if the injured party was negligent, if the animal has no history of aggression, or if the owner posts approved warning signs.
Most importantly, take precautions to protect others, but don’t forget to protect yourself as well, Kirkwood Insurance reminds consumers. For more information, contact Kirkwood Insurance email or call 914-769-9070