A Furry Liability

My wife, Kristin, and I brought home a liability exposure disguised in a furry yellow coat in 2015.  At only twelve pounds and barely able to walk, he wasn’t able to do any serious damage to a house, another dog, or our friends and neighbors.  However, we knew that as Jarvis grew up he could quickly create a sizable lawsuit should something go wrong.  Often times it’s not even the dog at fault but, when accidents or misunderstandings happen and the neighbor or mailman ends up in the hospital, a finger usually ends up pointed at the dog (and consequently at you).

Most people are surprised to learn that dog bite accidents account for over 1/3 of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims and are even more surprised that the average claim exceeds $30,000.  Therefore, when bringing your new best friend into your home, like Kristin and I recently have, considering your homeowner’s liability coverage is critical.

When determining adequate coverage limits most people tend to focus on coverage for their stuff, like their house, the contents of their apartment, or their jewelry.  However, usually the least expensive but most important coverage on a homeowner’s policy isn’t related to your stuff at all.  Instead, it is the personal liability coverage included in the policy.

Personal liability coverage will pay for your liability (subject to policy terms) resulting from accidents that you become legally responsible for, like hitting someone with a golf ball or someone falling on your icy steps. It will also cover (you guessed it) accidents your dog is responsible for, such as biting a neighborhood kid.  These accidents don’t even have to happen on your property in order to be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. 

If you have a dog, or are considering bringing one home, please discuss your personal liability coverage with us to make sure you have adequate coverage limits and that your policy discloses all required information.  Dogs make great companions but, if stuck in the wrong situation, even the best trained dog can cause an accident leading to a lawsuit.  The right insurance can help keep an unfortunate situation from becoming financially devastating.   

This article was written by Brian Boer.  Please send comments or questions to Brian at brian.boer@boerinsurance.com.