Knowing how to keep your pet under control can translate into a lower risk of premiums-hiking incidents.
Most dogs are wonderful furry family members, which means that you’d never really think of the connection between Rover and how much you pay for homeowners liability insurance. However, losing control of your pet could lead to lawsuits, insurance claims, and other problems you may never have considered.
Responsible dog ownership means keeping control, and that typically requires basic training.
By taking the proper steps to prevent avoidable problems, you can keep your homeowners liability insurance premiums down and save a substantial amount of cash every year. In that light, the first step you should take is to stop assuming that it wouldn’t happen to you.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Not all these bites cause harm, but many of them do. Of those bites, an estimated 800,000 require medical attention.
Where are these incidents taking place? In over half the cases, right there on the dog owner’s own property.
Dog bites comprise 1 in every 3 homeowners liability insurance claims.
When those claims happen, it places the policyholder at risk of losing discounts – such as a no claims discount if you’d never had to file an insurance claim before – or causing premiums to rise because you become a higher risk to cover.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog owners are liable for any injuries caused by their pets in the following circumstances:
- If the owner knew the dog “had a tendency to cause that kind of injury”
- If owner liability is among state statutes (regardless of the dog’s tendencies)
- If the owner was unreasonably careless and this led to the injury.
It’s important for you to know the laws in your state to understand your liability as a dog owner.
The role of homeowners liability insurance in a dog bite case.
If your dog bites one of your guests on your property and that person sues you, homeowners liability insurance can help to cover your court costs. That said if a claim of this nature is made, it is not uncommon for the insurance company to raise premiums or even to refuse to renew the policy’s coverage of your pet when renewal time comes around.
How to avoid having to make a dog bite claim.
Even when you have homeowners liability insurance coverage, the best step to take is always the one that will allow you to avoid making a claim in the first place. It means that you’ll save money and, even better, it means that nobody gets hurt. The Insurance Information Institute recommends responsible dog ownership, including proper treatment of the animal, dog training, and using the right techniques and products to keep control over your pet at all times.
Poor training and improper care from the owner are among the top causes of situations leading to dog bites.
The CDC recommends taking the following steps when getting a dog.
- Speak to a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to understand the breeds best suited to your home and neighborhood, including aggression levels associated with those breeds.
- Before adopting a dog and bringing it home, spend some time with it. Be especially careful before bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. A dog with any history of aggression is not appropriate for a home with kids.
- Never leave a child alone with any dog.
- Spay or neuter your dog. Studies show dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are three times more likely to bite.
- Make a priority of obedience training your dog. They should reliably respond to basic commands such as “come”, “sit” and “down”.
- Teach your dog to walk properly on a leash. Use a leash that ensures you always have total control of your dog regardless of whether you’re on your property, heading down the sidewalk, or strolling through a park.
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- Socialize your dog so that it will know how to behave appropriately around children, adults, and other animals.
- Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as fetch, as opposed to tug-of-war and other games that permit aggressive behaviors.
- Be especially cautious and keep your dog on a leash – even indoors – when you’re uncertain of its response.
- Take immediate action to overcome aggressive and undesirable behaviors by consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.
Taking these steps will help you to be more confident as a dog owner, will help you to avoid dangerous situations caused by your pet, will ensure that you can avoid having to make a homeowners liability insurance claim (saving you money!), and will keep Rover happy too.