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It happens fast.  Your neighbor’s toddler reaches out to pet your adorable dog and … man’s best friend quickly turns into a family nightmare.  

If you own a dog, you know you are always at risk of liability for dog bites and other canine-inflicted injuries. Dogs bite at least 4.5 million Americans every year, resulting in well over $1 billion in annual losses.  You can easily avoid contributing to that massive loss by investing in some excess insurance.

Does my homeowners’ insurance policy cover dog bites?

Unfortunately, homeowners and renters insurance policies are not required to provide coverage for injuries, damages, and losses caused by dogs. In turn, policies can exclude covering injuries inflicted by all dogs and animals. Some policies may even go as far as to exclude injuries caused by certain breeds of dogs such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas, and Chow-Chows.

How can I be sure my policy does not exclude dog bites?

To be certain that dog bites are not excluded from your policy, you can locate a section in your policy titled “Personal Liability” (or something similar) which includes an “exclusions” portion.  After perusing and making sure there are no tricky exemptions, you should read over the “declarations” and “riders” sections for information regarding types of coverage, costs, limits, and important notices.  Still can’t figure it out? Just talk to your insurance agent!

How much coverage is enough?

Typically, the minimum limit for personal liability coverage is $100,000; however, $300,000 is recommended for those with medium sized dogs. Another important aspect to consider with coverage is that those most likely to sustain an injury from your dog might be those you love most. So, purchasing an umbrella or excess policy in the $1 million range may be the more appropriate option to ensure you and your loved ones’ safety.

Is this going to cost me an arm and a leg? (Not literally of course.)

Surprisingly, no! An umbrella or excess policy with a $1 million limit is very inexpensive. It usually costs about $150 to $300 per year for the first $1 million. If you chose to increase your coverage, the second million would cost about $75, and all subsequent increments of $1 million would cost about $50 per year. All limbs still accounted for!

If you are already the proud parent of a pup, insurance is an absolute must.  If getting a dog is in your foreseeable future, get ahead of the game and see what your insurance policy has to offer in terms of coverage.  Ask your Darr Schackow Insurance agent if you are covered in the case of a doggy disaster!


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