Make sure your home insurance covers for dog bite injuries

Owning a house and a dog is the dream of many. However, when looking for home insurance, one should make sure that their policy covers both adequately.

Owning a house and a dog is the dream of many. However, when looking for home insurance, one should make sure that their policy covers both adequately.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, accidents involving dog bites are one of the most common reasons for insurance liability claims, accounting for nearly one-third of all claims and costing more than $387 million in 2008.

"The rise in dog bite claims over the course of the past five years can be attributable to the increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards which have risen well above inflation in recent years," said Loretta Worters, the vice president of the institute.

According to the institute, most homeowner and renters insurance policies will pay out between $100,000 and $300,000 and provide between $1,000 and $5,000 of no-fault medical coverage if a pet bites someone. However, some policies also include provisions that automatically hold dog owners liable for any attacks, while others only cover the first bite inflicted by a dog but none after.

Additionally, because lawsuits involving dog bites can sometimes result in payouts into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the institute recommended that homeowners think about adding additional personal excess liability policies, or "umbrella" liability policies.

Umbrella policies usually provide additional coverage that protects against personal liabilities, such as dog bites, that could impact a substantial portion of your assets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 900,000 of the 4.5 million who are bitten by dogs every year require some form of medical care, the institute reported.

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Posted: September 17, 2009

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