The liability portion of your insurance is intended to cover medical bills if a guest in your home gets injured in some way. This does not cover absolutely everything, and many insurance companies have a canine exclusion to your coverage, so if your dog bites someone, paying for it may come out of your pocket. Some insurance companies simply do not offer coverage for dog bites, while others discriminate based on the dog breed.
Dog-related insurance claims are quite common, which is why they will often exclude dogs from a policy. If an insurance company does extend its coverage to dogs, it will often have breed restrictions, not covering breeds they deem to be “aggressive;” even if the dog has no history of violent behavior.
Some of the dogs that are frequently excluded are:
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan Malamute
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Chow Chow
- Great Dane
- Presa Canario (Canary Dog)
- Siberian Husky
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Any dog with a history of biting
It is important to note that not all insurance companies will discriminate against the breed of your dogs, so while it can be hard to get insurance with a blacklisted breed, it is not impossible. Your insurance company might raise your premium a little if you have one of these breeds, but it is usually not too expensive; it averages $25 to $75. Failing to disclose your dog to your insurance company can result in your insurance company rejecting your claim and costing you a ton of money.
If you have an umbrella liability insurance policy, it should cover a dog bite incident, since that type of policy is intended to cover any lawsuit against you. You cannot get an umbrella policy unless your assets are $100,000 or more.
Animal Liability Insurance
If your insurance company does not cover your pets, you may be able to purchase animal liability insurance, which can help cover medical expenses for injuries from the dog as well as legal fees if you are sued.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2018 the average dog bite claim cost $39,017, so getting animal liability insurance if your homeowner’s insurance will not cover a dog bite claim is a good idea so you do not have to pay that out of pocket.
Preventing Dog Bites
There are some things you can do to help keep your dog from biting people:
- Watch the dog’s body language
- Socialize the dog
- Train your dog
- Know the dog’s personality
- Put up signage that there’s a dog on the property
- Keep the dog safe and away from situations that might make it want to bite
If you do put up a sign about your dog, be careful how you word it; if you have a “beware of dog” sign, you are admitting your dog is vicious, and this can cause trouble for you, depending on what state you are in. Some recommend that you instead say, “dogs on premises” or even just “no trespassing.” This is intended to warn trespassers away, without admitting your dog might be vicious.