Friday, June 28, 2013

Dog Bite Insurance Claim Trends

From before the beginnings of recorded history, dogs have played a special role in the lives of human being – friend, protector and purveyor of non-judgmental love, they do it all. Having a dog in the house adds another level to the joy and happiness that the family feels. But, while a dog is a part of the family, it should never be forgotten that it is an animal and there is always a chance that it’s natural instincts will surface and cause it to do something that will not meet with human approval. The most common of these is biting – either a person or another dog. The reasons for the bite could be many and from a dog’s perspective, it often makes perfect sense. But a person who has been bitten or whose dog has been injured will not see it that way.

And as the owner of the dog, you are the one responsible for its actions. This means that you are liable for any costs arising out of injuries caused by your dog.

Dog bites are among the top risks covered by homeowner’s liability insurance coverage and with even the best behaved of dogs suddenly having an off day and biting someone, the reasons for this are obvious. But in most cases this coverage is a one shot thing. Once your claim is raised for damages and costs due to your dig biting someone, the chances are that the insurance will be cancelled and finding another fresh coverage will be next to impossible. And even if you do find it, the cost will be 5 times more expensive, or even higher.

As a dog owner, you need to balance the liability with the possible loss of future coverage if you decide to file a claim. To complicate matters further it is a normal condition of an insurance policy that the insurance company must be notified in a timely manner of any potential claim and not doing so could place the coverage in jeopardy. In most cases it is advisable to turn in all claims to the insurer.

But this is not set in stone. If your dog bites someone or another dog and the injury is minor, it could make sense to accept the blame, apologize for what has happened and offer to pay all the bills arising out of the bite. Denying responsibility or trying to place the blame on the other party are natural human instincts, but if your liability can be proven, this kind of actions can make the situation worse for you in relation to your insurance company.

If the costs arising from the bite are going to be less of a burden on you as compared to the possibility of losing your insurance coverage, accepting responsibility and the costs involved could be the more practical and cost effective option. When faced with such a dilemma discussing the matter with your insurance broker and obtaining his expert advice on the best course of action is the right thing to do.

Training your dog properly, socializing him  to minimize the risk of biting and keeping it on a leash when out in public can go a long way towards reducing the chances of your getting involved in a dog bite situation. There are very few bad dogs, but there are many owners who have shirked their responsibility to train their dogs in proper behavior. That is not just antisocial but it also places your finances and insurance coverage at risk.

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