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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Do you own a four-legged friend? You are not alone! There are nearly 85 million dogs living in households in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Unfortunately, about 4.5 million people, mostly children, are bitten or injured by dogs each year.

In 2021, $881 million was paid by insurance companies for dog bites and dog-related injury liability claims, the AVMA reported. The average claim was $49,025.

While your MAPFRE homeowner’s insurance liability coverage has certain benefits, you might want to consider adding Umbrella Insurance to your existing policy.

Umbrella Insurance is a type of personal liability insurance that provides protection against catastrophic liability claims.

How does Umbrella Insurance work if my dog bites someone?

If your dog bites someone, that person would be able to file a lawsuit against you which would activate the Liability Coverage under your existing homeowners policy. With the added protection of Umbrella Insurance, your policy would go into effect after the primary policy coverage is exhausted and certain limits are met. With MAPFRE, you would have added protection from $1 million to $5 million, depending on your need. If your claim exceeds the limit, you would be responsible for the remaining amount.

Are there breed restrictions?

Most dogs are acceptable and you don’t need to do anything special to let MAPFRE know you have them as they would be covered up to the limits on your homeowners policy. However, there are some breeds that MAPFRE needs to know about and will consider providing coverage for only when certain conditions are met. Those breeds include:

  • Akita
  • American Bull Dog
  • Bull Mastiff or Mastiff
  • Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Wolf Dog
  • Mixture of the above breeds

The policyholder must complete and sign an approved Dog-Questionnaire which can be obtained from an Independent Agent. The dog must also successfully pass the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizens program and the validated certificate must be submitted with an application.

Even if you have the proper coverage, the Insurance Information Institute and the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition have the following recommendations if you reside with a dog:

Make sure your dog is healthy
Because a sick or injured dog is more likely to bite, you should make sure you keep up to date with your dog’s yearly veterinarian checkups and vaccinations to keep them in the best physical health. Dogs that are not spayed or neutered are also more likely to bite so it’s best to have your dog “fixed” when your veterinarian recommends it is safe to do so.

Socialize your dog
Dogs that are well-socialized are less likely to become frightened and to act out.

Arrange play dates

Gradually start arranging play dates with other dogs and people to help them learn how to socialize.

Take it slow
On the flip side, when dealing with a new dog, don’t rush them out into crowded areas or dog parks right away. It’s best to expose them to low-stress interactions for short periods of time until they get used to people.

Leash training
Dogs that get used to proper leash training will allow them and you to do more socializing. It is also the safest way to protect your pet from traffic and unrestrained animals. Accidents or animal bites are greatly reduced when responsible pet owners obey the leash law.

Take precautions when the doorbell rings
If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery people, it’s best to keep the dog secured in another room to avoid any issues.

Fence your yard
A great preventative addition to your property to keep your family and pets safe is to add a fence around your property. They also add privacy and security. Fencing your property can help protect your pet from unrestrained animals and traffic to keep them happy and healthy.

If you’re still not sure what type of coverage you should have, your independent agent can discuss options with you. And if you’re not a MAPFRE customer yet, you can get a fast, free home insurance quote today to see how much you could save!

Please Note:This content is not intended to describe any specific coverage offered by MAPFRE Insurance. No coverage is provided, bound or guaranteed by this article. Available coverages, credits and discounts vary from state to state and are subject to eligibility criteria and policy terms/conditions, which will control in the event of conflict between this article and your insurance policy. For information about your policy, please review your individual policy contract and speak with your insurance representative.

MAPFRE Insurance® is a brand and service mark of MAPFRE U.S.A. Corp. and its affiliates, American Commerce Insurance CompanySM (Cal. COA 4928-8); Citation Insurance CompanySM; The Commerce Insurance CompanySM; Commerce West Insurance CompanySM (Cal. COA 1372-2); and MAPFRE Insurance CompanySM (Cal. COA 3039-5). Not all products available in all states.

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