The U.S. has seen a rise in pet ownership during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dogs have provided companionship during a lonely time for many. Not only do dogs help owners feel less alone, but according to the American Kennel Club dog ownership offers additional benefits. Dogs can help lower blood pressure, ease stress, get their owners moving as well as improve their owner’s social life.
“Dog ownership has brought joy to families during a tough time, but ownership comes with additional responsibility, such as dealing with dog bites,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency. Dog bites are an unfortunate reality to pet ownership. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually in the U.S.
Consequently, President Biden recently discovered this when one of his German shepherds was returned to the family home in Delaware after a biting incident with a member of White House security.
Florida is a strict liability state, meaning an owner is held liable for a dog bite even if they were not previously aware of the aggressive nature of the animal. More importantly Florida dog bite laws do not require the victim to prove their injuries were a result of an owner’s negligence. In Florida, a dog owner is held liable for injuries if proven that the dog bit the victim and the victim was either in a public space or lawfully on private property.
Consider, over half of dog bites occur at a home with dogs familiar to the victim. The Insurance Information Institute (III), writes Florida reported 1,268 dog bite claims in 2019, with the average cost per claim totaling $53, 603. Homeowners insurance and renter’s insurance policies generally cover dog bite liability legal expenses. Dog bites and other dog related injuries account for nearly a third of the money paid out in homeowner liability claims. Each insurer is responsible for checking into their liability limits. The dog owner is responsible for damages that exceed claim limits.
Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own a specific breed of dogs that are categorized as dangerous. While other insurance companies do not ask. However, once a dog has bitten someone it poses an increased risk. In that case, III reports, the insurance company may charge a higher premium, decline to renew the homeowners insurance policy or exclude the dog from coverage.
Be sure to know what your policy covers.
GreatFlorida Insurance works with reputable insurance companies to provide dependable homeowners insurance and renters insurance at affordable prices. For more information go online to www.greatflorida.com or call us today.