It seems that every few months we hear in the news about a severe injury caused by a dog bite. Dog bites have accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2010, costing nearly $413 million. The average cost of a dog bite claim is approximately $26,000 and continues to steadily rise. While only a very small number of dogs ever cause injury, it is important to understand the liability and insurance ramifications if they do.
The first sentence of Florida Statute 767.04 states, "The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness". The statute continues to define a limited number of exceptions that reduce liability of the owner of the dog by percentages. However, rather than relying on the chance that you may not be liable for the loss, I recommend that dog owners review insurance options that are available to them.
Most home insurance companies offer a buy back option to add animal liability coverage up to a specific limit. You also have the option to purchase a stand alone canine liability policy for your specific canine(s). A canine liability policy may offer liability coverage limits from $10,000 up to $1,000,000. Obtaining a separate canine liability policy removes the breed restriction limitation with the homeowners carrier and you’re also gaining a carrier that will specialize in the coverage.
Again, most dogs are safe, loving, members of our families, but please contact us if you are interested in canine liability.