Dog bites Man was a really funny show if you ever saw it. However, there is nothing funny about dog bites when it comes to the legal problems they can cause a property owner or a property insurance carrier.
When I first started my Insurance agency many years ago in San Diego, CA ;
I had little start up money to advertise. So, I joined a local business referral group. We would meet once a week and swap prospects and potential
business source's. I remember we all would have an opportunity to stand up and give our one minute commercial for our business. I recall the one personal injury attorney always would talk about auto accidents, trip and falls ,. Then at the very end of his comments he would raise his voice in excitement and say
" Oh yea don't forget dog bites, We love dog bites!"
The Insurance Information Institute states that there are 4.5 Million people bitten by dogs every year. With 885,000 of those people needing to seek medical attention; about one half of those are children. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dollar amount for a claim has risen from
$19,162 in 2003 to just over $45,000 in 2013.
What does all this mean to me, you ask?
If you sell any kind of Homeowners Insurance or even Renters Insurance you may want to take a look at the specimen policy or insuring agreement within.
Most of the time the carrier includes Animal Liability. However, if you are writing a limited policy because of the property or Homeowner being tough to place due to claims or credit issues, you want to proceed with caution.
Some policies will exclude certain breeds of dog's such as: German Shepard, Chow or our poor misunderstood fiend the pit bull. Some carriers will exclude " Any animal with a known vicious nature or history. Some carriers will even go as far as to say "or mix within". Many people including myself do not always no the true breed of dog we have.
So how do Insurance Agents and brokers protect themselves from an Animal Liability E&O Claim ? As usual it is all about documentation. Point out the animal liability section of the Specimen policy and have them sign or initial it. Also, if there is a animal liability exclusion or sub limit make sure to have them sign the exclusion or endorsement.
Read more about dog bite liability here.