What is Animal Liability Coverage?

“We have a dog, but she would never bite anyone.” We hear that phrase more often than not. You never think your dog will bite someone…until they do. If the person they bit sues, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and settlements. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average cost of a dog bite claim is $26,166. If you don’t have animal liability coverage, you will be paying this out of your own pocket.

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We highly encourage our clients with four legged friends to purchase animal liability coverage with their homeowner’s insurance policy. What is animal liability coverage? Well, if your dog is a generally friendly animal with no bite history, the insurance company will take on the liability of that dog to a certain extent. Some companies, like St. Johns and Centauri, will take on the liability up to $25,000 or $50,000. Whereas, other companies like Federated National will take on the liability up to the full Personal Liability limits of that policy. So, if your personal liability limit is $500,000 then your dog would be covered up to that amount. Typically, the additional animal liability coverage is an extra $25-$50 annually.

Obviously, there are some restrictions that go along with this coverage. As I mentioned before, the animal cannot have any prior bite history. Each company also has their own restricted breed list. This is a list of breeds that they have deemed aggressive and dangerous. Many of these lists include Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Doberman, German Shepherds, etc. If your dog’s breed is on that list, then you become ineligible for the animal liability coverage. Some companies won’t write your homeowner’s insurance at all and some will just exclude the animal liability portion.

In conclusion, when thinking about getting a dog make sure that the breed is not on your homeowner’s insurance restricted breed list. Even if you think your dog won’t bite anyone, go ahead and get the animal liability coverage. I know I would rather pay $50 each year and not have to pay $26,000 out of my own pocket in the event of a dog bite.

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