Animal Liability Coverage: What to Know for Home and Business Owners -

Animal Liability Coverage: What to Know for Home and Business Owners

As a local San Diego Insurance Broker, I want to emphasize the critical role that animal liability coverage and dog bite coverage plays in insurance policies for both Business Owners and Homeowners.

Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, understanding this coverage can save you from unexpected financial burdens.

What Is Animal Liability Insurance?

Animal Liability coverage is typically connected to dog bites that could be included or excluded in your commercial and/or home insurance policies.

  • Homeowners Insurance: Most homeowners insurance policies cover dog bites. If you own a home, your policy likely includes personal liability coverage that protects you financially if your dog injures someone.
  • Business Owners : San Diego is known as one of the most pet friendly cities around, as a business owner you can control if your business allows pets or not, but as you know you don’t always have a say if your client or in some cases tenants are able to bring in their friendly companion.

Why Do You Need Dog Bite Coverage?

  • Financial Protection: Dog bites can result in significant financial liabilities. Medical costs, legal judgments, and settlements can add up quickly. Without proper coverage, individuals pet owners and business owners may be responsible for substantial reimbursement if their dog or customer dog injures someone.
  • Rising Costs: The average cost per dog bite claim has been increasing. Factors contributing to this increase include higher medical expenses and larger legal settlements. As of 2024, the average cost per dog bite claim was approximately $70,000.

How Existing Policies Cover Dog Bites

Homeowner’s insurance:

  • Medical Payment Coverage: This coverage pays for medical expenses resulting from injuries that occur on your property (even if you’re renting). For instance, it can cover the medical costs if your dog bites a visitor at your home.
  • Personal Liability Coverage: Homeowners policies typically include personal liability coverage. If your dog injures someone off your property (e.g., at the park), this coverage can help protect you financially.

Business Insurance:

  • Coverage can be offered on your general liability coverage, If a dog causes harm to someone, this coverage can come to your aid.

Here is an example:  The Smiths and Their Playful Pup

Meet the Smith family: John, Lisa, and their lovable Labrador, Max. Max enjoys long walks, chasing squirrels, and playing fetch at the local park. One sunny afternoon, while John was walking Max, the unexpected happened. Max, usually friendly and well-behaved, got overly excited and nipped a passerby.

The passerby, Mr. Johnson, suffered a minor injury and required medical attention. He decided to file a claim against the Smiths for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Fortunately, the Smiths had dog bite coverage included in their homeowner’s insurance policy.

Here is How it Played Out:

  • Medical Expenses: Max’s playful nip resulted in a $2,000 medical bill for Mr. Johnson. The Smiths’ homeowners insurance covered this expense under the medical payment coverage.
  • Legal Costs: Mr. Johnson considered pursuing legal action. The Smiths were relieved to know that their personal liability coverage would protect them. Legal fees, court costs, and potential settlements were all covered.

Thanks to their dog bite coverage, the Smiths avoided financial strain. Their policy saved them thousands of dollars, allowing them to focus on Max’s training and ensuring he didn’t have any more unexpected encounters.

Take Action Now

As a responsible Business and dog owner, consider the following steps:

  • Review Your Current Policy: Check your existing homeowners or renter’s insurance policy to understand the coverage it provides for dog bites.
  • Consider Additional Coverage: Depending on your situation, you might want to explore separate dog liability insurance or increase your existing liability limits.
  • Business Insurance: Confirm with your carrier and agent that you have animal liability included in your liability insurance, as these dog bite cases rise, insurance companies are Excluding this coverage on their policies.
  • Consult with an Insurance Professional: Reach out to a local San Diego Insurance Broker like myself to discuss your specific needs. I’d be happy to guide you toward the right coverage options and provide insight for what you should be looking for in regards to your specific coverage needs. 

Remember, dog bite incidents can happen unexpectedly. Having adequate coverage ensures peace of mind and protects your finances in case the unexpected occurs. Reach out to me if you have any questions or want to look into coverage for your pooch!

Michael Mauger
Insurance Broker

Media credit: Image licensed from Adobe