When Dogs Get Wild, How Will Liability Insurance Protect Me?
Dogs are considered as “man’s best friend.” They keep us company when we are down and need companionship. We consider our furry friends as part of the family. We keep their vaccines updated, buy them clothes, and others. Dogs are territorial animals and will protect us from strangers. But when dogs misbehave, what is our responsibility when our visitors and other people become threatened.
As dog owners and homeowners at the same time, we are bound by law when our dogs bite someone. Article 2183 of the Philippine Civil Code states: “The possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of the same is responsible for any damage it may cause. The responsibility ceases in case damage comes from force majeure or from the fault of the person who suffers damage.”
The Responsibility Of Dog Owners
Under Republic Act 9482 or the Anti Rabies Act of 2007, pet owners have the following responsibilities:
- Report the incident of dog biting to concerned officials for proper investigation or appropriate action and placing of the dog under observation by a government or private veterinarian.
- Provide assistance to the dog bite victim and shoulder any medical expenses incurred and other incidental expenses relative to the victim’s injuries.
- Have their dogs subjected to regular vaccination against rabies and maintain a registration record of vaccinations of their dog.
- Maintain control of their dogs and not allow them to roam the streets or public places without a leash.
- Provide their pet dogs with proper grooming, adequate food, and clean shelter
The law states that pet owners who refuse to put their dogs under observation after it has bitten another person shall be subject to a fine of P10,000. Furthermore, pet owners who do not pay for the medical expenses of the dog bite victim shall be meted a fine of P25,000 on top of the actual damages.
What is the “Standard of Care?”
When you have a visitor, they expect that they will not be injured while on your property. As a homeowner, you owe a “standard of care” to anyone on your property. If you own a rental property, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone entering your premises. This means that you should keep your dogs away from guests or at least put up warning signs.
If you are a dog owner, you owe a reasonable duty of care to anyone when they are on your property. If someone who has been bitten by your dog can show negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care in restraining the dog or warning them of your dog’s propensities, you could be sued and held liable for any injuries they may incur.
Homeowners Insurance And Dog Bites
If your pet dog bites a visitor resulting in injuries or hospitalization, you could be held liable for the medical expenses or legal fees in case your dog bites someone. You may not have the cash to cover the medical bills. In addition, you may have to pay attorney’s fees in case the family of the dog bite victim holds you liable for the injuries their loved one incurred.
A homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover dog bites depending on your provider.
With a homeowner’s policy, you can pay for the cost of medical bills and hospitalization due to injuries incurred from a dog bite up to the limit indicated in the insurance policy. You want to make sure that the breed of your pet dog is not excluded from coverage. If the dog bite claim exceeds your personal liability or medical payments coverage limits of your policy, you will shoulder the remaining costs. So how will homeowner’s insurance cover dog bites:
- Personal Liability. The personal liability component of your homeowner’s insurance will pay for the damages and injuries you are liable for. The coverage limit will vary from one insurance company to another so make sure to clear this out with your provider.
- Medical Payments Coverage. This component of your insurance policy pays for minor medical fees of the dog bite victim regardless of who is at fault.
If you want more liability coverage than what your insurance policy covers, it may be worth considering an umbrella policy. This type of policy may be worthwhile if you own an aggressive breed of dog or if you just adopted one and still learning its personality.
When Will Dog Bites Be Covered?
As a dog owner, you need to understand when dog bites will be covered by your homeowners insurance policy:
- When your dog bites your guest
If one of your guests is bitten by your pet dog and sustains an injury, Your medical payments coverage can help shoulder the cost of an ambulance and first aid. For severe injuries, your liability coverage can pay for the more extensive medical bills. If the dog bite victim decides to sue you, you can use your liability coverage to pay for the legal fees.
- When your dog bites someone away from your home
The good news is that homeowners insurance will provide you with financial protection on and off your property. However, you want to make sure that your policy does not limit your coverage to just your premises.
- When your dog damages another person’s property
If you visited your friend’s house and your furry friend destroys furniture, your liability coverage will cover the cost of damage.
When Homeowners Insurance Will Not Cover Dog Bites?
There are also situations when your homeowner’s insurance will not cover dog bites:
- Biting History
Once your dog has a history of biting someone, it is considered high risk. This could result to a high homeowners insurance premium rate once you renew your insurance policy.
- Dangerous Breeds
Dangerous breeds like pit bulls, chow chows, rottweilers, Siberian huskies, to name just a few are considered high risk and hence are excluded from insurance policies. However, there are exceptions like if they are trained.
- If you or a member of your household was bitten
Unfortunately, liability and medical expenses coverage will not cover the cost of injuries or medical bills associated with dog bites that you or your household members will incur.
Being a dog owner entails a lot of responsibilities and one of them is making sure that your canine friend is restrained from biting another person. But when your dog becomes a threat, you can count on your homeowner’s insurance to bail you out of your financial quandary. Looking for homeowner’s insurance? Contact an Assurance.PH for further details at email@example.com / 09157052031 or 09052050402.