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DogOver 60 percent of American households own a pet, with dogs being a popular choice. Any dog owner will admit their devotion to their canine, but having a dog increases liability risks. Though most pooches are docile, any animal (humans included) can lash out if provoked. It’s important to understand the liability risks associated with dog ownership, along with what insurance will or will not cover.

About one-third of states mandate that dog owners are “strictly liable” for their dog’s behavior. The rest of the country is more lenient, with a “one free bite” principle mandating that dog owners are liable only if they know about their dog’s tendency to bite. In any state, you are considered liable in instances of unreasonable carelessness; however, you are not held liable if your dog injures an intruder.

Homeowners and renters insurance will often cover dog bite liability, up to policy limits. Most homeowners policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. Dog owners found liable are responsible for reimbursing the victim for medical costs, lost wages, property damage and any associated legal fees. Once your dog has bitten a guest, your insurance provider may charge you a higher premium or exclude your dog from coverage to offset the increased risk.

This may sound unimportant to owners of well-mannered dogs, but dog bites occur more frequently than you may think. Dog bites accounted for over a third of all homeowners liability claims in 2012, costing over $489 million. The average cost paid out per bite was $29,752.

Your dog is part of your family, a loving companion. You wouldn’t dream of rehoming your pal. However, if you notice aggression or unease around strangers, you may find it best to restrain your dog while guests are in your home to prevent unwanted incidents.

Wondering what your state laws are for dog bite liability? Call us at 813-933-6691 for more information on Florida homeowners liability insurance.
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