If you have ever owned a pet larger than a goldfish you know that it can be a handful to handle it. This happens when your pet is still young and untrained, or just untrained.
Pets are playful and fun to be around with but if your pet hasn’t been trained properly sometimes you’ll see that things can get a little out of hand.
And other times, things are simply down to unexpected circumstance, but the point of all I am saying is that liability is not a natural consideration as to most it seems like a long shot that we would ever need it.
This is probably the mindset of the majority as we can never envisage a situation that anything so serious could happen, so this article sets out to draw your attention to the possibilities and potential pitfalls and the reasons why liability insurance for your pet could be worth considering.
In this article, we shall talk about:
- What is Pet Liability Insurance?
- Business of Pets
- Finding the Right Liability Insurance:
- Basic coverage
- 3 types of policies
- Companies to Consider
- Dog Bite Law: What You Need to Know
- Other Dangerous Animals for Pets
Imagine this scenario: you open your front door. Your rather large Labrador spots an attractive lady dog on the other side of the road. In a moment, he’s gone past you with his amorous eye on the gorgeous lady dog giving him the eye. In his haste and excitement, he bounds across the road straight in front of a push bike, which in turn swerves to avoid the dog. In doing so, goes directly in front of an oncoming car, knocking him off his bike.
The car driver in an attempt to avoid the cyclist also swerves causing him to go straight to the path of another car and they collide. Pushing the other car towards the sidewalk where a pedestrian was walking by. All this, could be deemed as the fault of your dog, therefore in turn your fault. In just a few moments, such an incident could involve injury or death to the cyclist, the two drivers and their passengers, and of course, the pedestrian. Maybe this is an extreme scenario, but such things have happened.
A pet owner is liable for the cost of any accident that may be caused by his pet, including damages to persons, i.e. dog bites, or if your dog causes someone to fall and injure themselves; and properties, i.e. like in cases of car accidents caused by for example your pet dog chasing a cat across a busy road causing damages to cars and personal injuries to drivers.
Suddenly, you might wish you had liability insurance for your pet already signed. If it is bodily injuries that occur and the person will need treatment, it can quickly become a very costly affair that may include not only hospitalization fees but legal fees as well.
Pet liability insurance covers those costs for you. If you have an animal pet that can potentially do harm even though you know that it is most unlikely to happen, you should seriously consider getting liability insurance. Luckily there are many insurance companies that will help you out but you will need to take action quick before anything happens.
Just because an incident may seem unlikely, does not mean that it is a small matter. If such an incident does occur, then it can be a very serious matter which is totally out of the blue and it is then and probably only then, that you would realize the importance of covering yourself against such eventualities.
On the other hand, if you have a business dealing with pets, like you are a dog trainer, a pet sitter, a pet grooming store, or a dog walker, it would be essential to have pet liability insurance. This protects you against clients’ claims from any possible incident that could cause injuries or damages that may occur where their pets are involved while under your care and attention.
Whether the damage is unintentional or not; damages from incidents like when you’re walking a client’s dog and the dog slipped and fell, or when a client’s dog gets loose and bites someone, general liability insurance can cover you and help protect your assets.
It could be said that it should be considered standard practice to ensure you are covered especially if you deal with pets professionally. Someone in that position is far more prone to being involved in an incident which ends up with them being held liable.
If you are a dog owner, you have the legal responsibility to ensure that your pet is well taken care of as well as the people that your pet comes into contact with by getting liability insurance. My suggestion then is that you talk to several insurance companies before deciding where to apply for cover because prices can vary greatly. Take your time and talk to more than one insurance provider because often you’ll be able to get a good package for less the price but more value.
Make sure you read and review properly and understand what is covered and what is not covered. Understand the definitions, like bodily injury and property damage. If you have trouble fully understanding it for yourself, there is no shame in having a lawyer or knowledgeable professional explain things clearly to you. It is important you fully understand what your liabilities could be and the best way to be protected by insurance.
With homeowners and renters insurance, liability cover is most likely to be for dog bites. Other policies exclude dog bites, and there are those that only give inadequate cover for the victim. The liability coverage is down to what kind of breed your dog is.
Normally, breeds commonly excluded from coverage include Pit Bulls, Bully Breeds, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Akitas, and German Shepherds.
However, if you just do your homework and do a thorough research, you will find that there are a few that have no breed restrictions at all. This is what you need to find if you are an owner of the above mentioned breeds.
You may be able to obtain information from a reputable breeder of any such breed as they are likely to have dealt with this situation themselves as professional dog breeders.
For the uninsured or the inadequately insured, there are three solutions available for dog owners – umbrella coverage, excess coverage and canine liability policies.
Umbrella policies would normally include liability coverage for injuries, damages or losses that are not covered by a dog owner’s homeowner insurance. The usual solution for dog owners is to purchase an umbrella policy if he has homeowner or renters insurance that does not cover dog bite injuries.
An excess policy provides a higher policy limit for losses that ARE covered by the primary insurance.
A canine liability policy is designed for dog owners specifically.
Most popular insurance companies do not offer pet liability insurance due to the fact that they claim that this kind of liability insurance coverage would be offered generally within a homeowner’s or renters’ insurance packages.
However, there are a few companies that do specialize on this kind of insurance. Here is a list that you may want to look into in case you find that you need this type of insurance [source: DogBiteLaw.com]:
- Einhorn Insurance Agency: Insuring Animals, Residents & Property Owners
- Lester Kalmanson Agency, Inc.
P.O. Box 940008
Maitland, Florida, 32794-0008
- Eva Reed, The Ohio Insurance Exchange
117 West Main Street, Ste 103
Lancaster, OH 43130
- Evolution Insurance Brokers
Rick Lindsey, President / Underwriter
Phone: (801) 304-5510
Fax: (801) 304-5595
It is always wise to check with each company on what is covered specifically and what is not covered in liability insurance for dogs before you buy it. You don’t want to be surprised when you have to file a claim.
Remember that many a serious accident has been caused by a dog on a freeway often resulting in deaths, therefore it is imperative that you take the possibility of something unfortunate happening seriously and be fully aware of any consequence and liability to yourself should such a thing should transpire.
You think that owning a dog is carefree and you only think of the fun but not any impending problems. But what if your dog happens to be an over-excitable dog, or worse, a dog with a temper? Dogs with tempers bite. Dogs that bite can get you in a whole heap of trouble, because just by owning that dog, you become as liable as if you had bitten somebody yourself. You are always supposed to be in full charge of your pet. Failure to keep control for whatever reason could mean serious problems for you.
In the US, no matter which state you are in, if you are aware that your dog has a vicious streak, then you will be the only one liable should your dog ever bite anybody.
But this may be a difficult legal ground for the victim as he would need to prove that the dog did have a history of aggression, and that you knew that your dog had this aggressive streak in him. But how is that proven?
Somebody behaving irresponsibly towards your dog could trigger an aggressive reaction. For example, a stranger being overly familiar with your dog, although with affection in mind, makes the mistake of putting his face close to the dog’s face, and could result in a very nasty bite to the face.
Your defense in this instance may be the victim had approached your dog in a manner that unsettled him and made him nervous, which is often what dogs will react to. However, the victim may allege that you have failed to control your dog.
All this demonstrates is how easily incidents can occur, none of which can be anticipated. Therefore, it is your legal responsibility to foresee any potential problems, if you intend to own a dog.
The UK has a responsible attitude towards keeping dangerous animals in one’s backyard. Whereas in America, regulations are on a state-to-state basis ranging from a complete ban to not requiring any permit but regulating some aspects thereof, i.e. entry permits, veterinary certificates, etc.
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, which later became the Animal Welfare Act of 2006, was first introduced in the UK in response to public concern about the keeping of dangerous pets and aims to ensure that private individuals keeping dangerous wild animals as pets may do so only in circumstances that create no risk to the public, and safeguard welfare of the animals as well.
Obviously, local authorities in the UK are aware of the potential risk factors. Hence, there are tight procedures in the keeping of dangerous animals. In the US, you can check your state laws on the subject.
Therefore, if you have any intentions of owning a dangerous animal for a pet, then you do not even think about not having liability insurance for pets. It’s a MUST.
All these are reasons why liability insurance for pets is important. Granted, we don’t all have an alligator in the swimming pool, or a cougar in the backyard. But many of us do have cats and dogs, and there’s a certain degree of risk to others in keeping them. So to be responsible and safe, it is not such a crazy idea to consider liability insurance for your pets.