Homeowners or renters insurance available for most dog bites

Does Homeowners or Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, there are nearly 5 million dog bites that occur in the United States each year. More than 500,000 of them require medical care. Stats like this show that dog bites are a fairly common type of personal injury. Animal bites of this nature are the most common liability claim on homeowners insurance policies, which is why you may be wondering what kind of coverage is typically available from homeowners or renters insurance policies.

homeowners renters insurance dog bite

Coverage May Be Limited Based on Dog Breed

The good news is most homeowners insurance policies do provide some protection for dog bite situations under the liability provisions included in a standard policy. Renters insurance also tends to offer this type of personal liability protection. Renters coverage may also extend to dog bites that might occur in your apartment. However, some insurance providers do have exclusions for certain dog breeds. For instance, some companies won’t cover breeds banned where you live. The most common banned or excluded breeds are pit bulls, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers. However, other breeds that either have undeserved reputations or territorial or aggressive character traits may be banned as well, so check to see if your breed is banned so you don’t end up assuming your covered when you’re not.

Here’s What Could Happen with Little or No Dog Bite Coverage

The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average nationwide claim for dog-bite-related injuries is just under $30,000. Even with a homeowners or renters insurance policy, you may still end up paying significant out-of-pocket expenses if a child or adult is bitten by a dog you own that’s on your property. Without any type of liability insurance, however, costs can easily be thousands of dollars if it’s determined you were negligent. The extent of your potential liability will vary based on circumstances and state laws. In Illinois, dog owners can be held liable for all injuries, even those not caused by a bite. The exception is provocation or trespassing by the victim. The biggest dog bite liability judgment on record resulted in $1.5 million in damages. The average judgment for such cases is far less substantial, but it can still be major financial burden.

What a Lawyer Can Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog

If you are the one who is bitten by a dog, a personal injury attorney can help you explore your legal options. It’s estimated that more than 95 percent of bodily injury cases are settled out of court. So, hiring an attorney doesn’t necessarily mean a court case will be the ultimate result. Depending on the circumstances involved, an attorney may attempt to settle a dog bite case if the terms are fair. This process often involves collecting medical records and, if an adult is involved, obtaining estimates of lost wages directly related to the injuries sustained. If a child under 18 is involved, there are different ways to handle settlements or judgment awards that a lawyer can explain to you.