Owning dogs is a fun and rewarding experience, however, if not dealt with responsibly, dogs can become a tremendous liability.

“Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2010, costing nearly $413 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute”

Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I said “The average cost per claim has risen over the last eight years which can be attributed to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which have risen well above the rate of inflation in recent years.”

Your homeowners liability typically covers dog bites, as long as your dog is not a restricted breed. Ask your insurance agent for information on a list of unacceptable dog breeds. If a liability claim exceeds the limit of liability on your homeowners policy, the dog owner is then personally reponsible for all damages above that amount, including legal expenses. An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that the average cost of dog bite claims was $26,166 in 2010. While most homeowners insurance policies carry liability limits of $100,000 up to $500,000  it isn’t a bad idea to get an umbrella policy, which will provide you excess liability starting at $1 million in the event a claim exceeds your underlying limit. Considering the rise in medical and legal costs many people find it prudent to purchase the umbrella to protect their assets in the event they are sued.

So, if you are a dog owner make sure you know all the facts. Protect yourself as well as others, because even the most docile dog may bite when it is frightened or provoked. Call your insurance agent today and snuggle up with your pup tonight knowing you have the knowledge and protection you need!!