For many of us, life would not be complete without our animal companions. They become part of the family, and just as you want to ensure that your human family members have coverage for liability claims, you also want to do the same for your furry family. The need for animal liability coverage is especially evident when it comes to man's best friend; in the unfortunate event of a dog attack or bite, you could find yourself in a very hairy situation if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy doesn't have the proper coverage.

What is the Risk?

Of course, it is a natural human tendency to want to believe that our pet would never attack a person, but the truth is that nearly a third of all homeowners’ claims are from dog bites.  It’s not the number of claims alone that is important to be aware of, but also the amount paid out for those claims.  With large settlements being awarded to victims of dog attacks, proper liability coverage is now more important than ever.  Without animal liability coverage, the judgment could be a huge financial setback.

Additional needs for Animal Liability Coverage

Dog bites are not the only type of injury that prompts a need for animal liability coverage.  Even a friendly, but overly excited dog can knock someone down, potentially causing injuries severe enough to put someone in the hospital, especially if the victim is a child or elderly.  Animals other than dogs can cause concern from a liability standpoint as well. Many farm animals, and any animal that is considered exotic, can raise a flag of concern for the insurance company. Just as with dogs, you will want to make sure that your animal is acceptable to your insurance company. 

Insurance Requirements

 An important thing to know about liability coverage for your animals is that it is typically not included under a standard homeowner's policy. Some carriers allow you to endorse the policy for animal liability coverage, and others will exclude coverage for animal attacks altogether.  When you purchase a policy, the insurance company will ask you about the types of pets that you have. Make sure to be honest.  It is not worth stretching the truth about the breed of your dog to get a policy. If something were to happen, not only will you have no coverage, but the insurance company could take you to court for insurance fraud. Just because one carrier will not accept certain dog breeds does not mean that will be the case with every carrier.   If you did not have any pets when you purchased the policy, but later got a dog or any animal that might be considered exotic, make sure to check on whether that breed or type of animal is acceptable under the conditions of your policy.

Remember—as they say, the best defense is a good offense. Check with your agent to see what kind of animal liability coverage you have on your policy. If you do not have animal liability, but have a dog or exotic animal, talk to your agent about how to get the coverage you need. Also, make sure that your pet fits within the underwriting guidelines detailed in the policy.

Have a furry friend at home? Call a Skyline Risk Management, Inc. (718) 267-6600 to protect your pets!