In 2012, more than 33 percent of homeowners liability insurance claims paid out were related to dog bites. According to one of the largest writers of homeowners insurance in the United States, the total amount of claims paid was nearly $490 million. The Insurance Information Institute found that although the amount of claims file fell by more than one percent in 2012, the amount of money required to settle each dog bite case had risen. In 2012, the average amount of money paid for a dog bite claim was more than $29,750. However, the average cost in 2011 was at least $350 less than that amount.
A decrease in the amount of dog bite claims is good news for insurers, but the rising cost per incident suggests that judgments and medical costs are likely to continue in the future. To avoid facing a dog bite lawsuit, there are several steps homeowners can take to be more responsible dog owners.
Being A Responsible Dog Owner
Even dogs that are normally friendly may bite if they feel threatened or think that their owners are in danger. Some are also territorial and may see visitors as intruders who will take their food or other property. It is important for homeowners to have dog bite liability protection. The most important step to take is to prevent dog bites from happening in the first place.
While some dogs may be classified as dangerous breeds, any dog can be dangerous if it is not properly trained, improperly bred or has previous owners who mistreated it. There are also several ways homeowners can lessen the chances of their dogs biting visitors. The following are some helpful steps to take:
Research optimal breeds before buying a dog. For homeowners who have not yet purchased a dog but plan to do so, it is important to spend time researching which breeds are better for companionship or working. It is also good to know which types of breeds are suitable for a particular neighborhood or home. Every homeowner should keep in mind that some cities have laws forbidding the ownership of pit bulls or other types of dogs.
Make sure children are not fearful of dogs. People who plan to buy dogs should make sure their kids do not show fear around the dogs. This is especially true with larger breeds. If a dog senses fear, it is more likely to bite a person. Young children and infants should never be left alone with a dog.
Get to know a dog before adopting it. Homeowners who are shopping for dogs should become familiar and comfortable with a dog before agreeing to give it a home. This is especially true for people who have young children or infants in the home. Any dog that has a history of aggressive behavior should be avoided by first-time dog purchasers.
Socialize the dog. After buying a dog, it is important to let it spend time around other dogs and humans so it becomes comfortable with them. Socialized dogs are less likely to bite visitors. When dealing with a new dog, approach new situations carefully. Avoid letting the dog off a leash when unsure what its response will be to a certain situation or new surroundings.
Teach children proper behavior around dogs. Children should learn that dogs must be left alone when they are eating or sleeping. They should also be discouraged from playing aggressive tugging games with dogs.
Never pet an unfamiliar dog. Every person should learn how to properly approach a dog. Any dog that is unfamiliar should not be petted, and it is important to avoid eye contact with a dog that is posing a clear threat.
Deal with aggressive behaviors immediately. If a dog shows any sign of aggression, it is important to talk to a vet or pet behaviorist immediately. The dog may need medical treatment for an underlying issue that is contributing to the dangerous behavior.
To learn more about special insurance to cover dog bites, insurance for certain breeds and what to expect if a claim is filed, discuss concerns with an agent.