Sometimes people who have been bitten by a dog (or any other animal) do not want to bring a legal action against the owner of the animal because they are concerned that doing so will lead to financial difficulties, especially if the owner is a neighbor. However, in many cases, the owner of the animal does not pay any fees as the insurance company bears the costs of legal claims and any settlement or judgment arising therefrom. It is important to understand who will pay for animal bites when making a claim.
Animal bites and Homeowner Insurance
In most cases, the owner’s policy will cover liability for dog bites (as well as other injuries caused by ordinary family pets) on the owner’s property. According to the Institute of insurance information, there were about 16500 homeowner insurance claims involving dog bites in 2012, with an average of $30000 per claim. Since this number only covers dog bites, the total may be higher if other animals (such as cats, horses and reptiles) are included.
The average amount of liability insurance in a homeowner’s policy is between $100000 and $300000. However, since many homeowners’ policies use wording that does not include any subsequent claims for dog bites or other animal related injuries, insurers usually cover only the first incident in which the animal caused the injury. There are also insurance companies that refuse to cover certain breeds of dogs, such as Bulldogs or Rottweilers.
Keep in mind that some homeowners’ policies reduce coverage for events that occur outside of the homeowner’s property. For example, some policies explicitly exclude vehicle related injuries. Therefore, if a dog is walking in a local park and the dog bites, the bite will be insured. But if the same dog bites from the window, it may not be covered up.
Even if the owner’s insurance policy does not cover dog bites in the car, it can be protected by the owner’s car insurance. Generally, car insurance and homeowner’s insurance policies will cover animal bites that occur in the car (if the animal is behind the pickup, it may bite on the car). When this happens, the two insurers usually argue that the other company is responsible for the loss. In most cases, the argument does not deal with the injured, but with the problem being solved by the insurance company.
There is a special insurance company to provide insurance for pet owners. As mentioned above, many insurance companies refused to cover animal bites after an incident. As a result, owners of “repeatedly fouled” pets often have no choice but to seek insurance from insurance companies specializing in animal insurance.
Animal bites without insurance
Even if the animal owner does not have the insurance for animal bites, you still have the right to sue the animal owner for damages. If you are not willing to make such a claim, remember that if the person who caused the injury fails to pay your medical expenses and compensate you for the loss of your income (which may be considerable), you will bear the loss alone.