Animal Liability

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Animal Liability?

I am a big animal lover and can’t imagine my world without my two happy, snuggly dogs - they are my babies! But what happens if my dog was scared and nipped at someone? Even the most lovable and well-behaved dogs can be unpredictable if they are in a scary situation or are protecting their owner or food. There are some pets out there that would never intentionally harm someone but could create an accidental injury - like a cat scratching a child’s face, a Great Dane leaning into someone for cuddles and causing them to fall, or a leash wrapping around someone’s foot and causing them to trip. I know that no one ever adds a furry friend to their home thinking of the potential liability, but as common as it is, you want to be informed on what your home insurance policy covers!

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But do I need Animal Liability on my home insurance policy?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida is the #2 state in the country for dog bites and in 2018 alone, insurance companies paid out over $56 million dollars in animal liability claims. In fact, the average claim in Florida was almost $44,000. We know accidents happen, but you never think your dog will injure someone, until he does. Due to the frequency of animal claims in Florida, many home insurance carriers have excluded animal liability from their policies and if you do have coverage, many of the policies have a limit of $25,000-$50,000 in damage.

How expensive will it be to add the coverage?

This coverage is typically very inexpensive. Depending on the company and level of coverage selected, the price will range from $25-50 extra per year.

Ok! Let’s add Animal Liability!

Great choice! But first, there are some restrictions that are accompanied with this coverage. Your dog typically cannot have a prior history of biting. Also, your dog cannot be on the company’s restricted dog breed list. Each company has their own list and you should contact your Bouchard agent to see if your animal is eligible. Even if you do have a restricted dog or a dog with a naughty history, don’t be shy about telling us! We typically have a solution to make sure Fido can still be covered.

What about my umbrella policy?

Many umbrella polices follow the form of your home insurance policy. This means that if your home insurance policy excludes a coverage, your umbrella policy would also. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and you should read your policy documents to see how your insurance company could cover animal liability.

My dog is a part of my family and always will be! But for me and my home, we would rather add an extra $25-50 to our home policy than risk a $44,000 lawsuit. As always, read your policy language to make sure you understand your limitations or speak with your Bouchard agent to understand your coverages.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn