Why Your Dog Needs Liability Insurance Even if She’s Perfect

My dog Maisie is an angel. The most vicious she gets is when she decides it’s time to attack her bacon ball. Her greatest foe is the doorbell.

But just in case a human hand happens to get entangled with the bacon ball mid-chomp or her howls at the door scare someone off the steps and onto the pavement, I make sure to have liability insurance.

All joking aside, liability coverage is a must for any dog owner regardless of the pooch’s temperament. If you or your dog is held responsible for injuries to someone else, you’ll have to pay the associated costs — and they can be significant.

Personal liability, umbrella and animal liability coverage can keep your finances safe if your dog hurts someone.

Do not let your wallet get taken away

According to Katherine Navarro Wong, State Farm paid just under $50,000 per claim for dog-related injuries in 2020.

In the event your Fido or Fifi causes one of these claims, your homeowners insurance coverage will likely be your first line of defense. Personal liability is a part of standard home insurance policies. However, payout amounts have predetermined limits and may not cover the amount you owe in case you are sued.

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Wong states that you should have a policy covering liability because a large claim could cause financial ruin. “Everybody should be checking their homeowners and renters liability limit.”

Umbrella insurance for dog owners

A typical homeowners policy will include $100,000 to $300,000. Renters insurance typically has $100,000. But you don’t want the surprise of finding out that this coverage is not enough. If you owe more than your home insurance covers, personal umbrella insurance can make up the difference and ensure you aren’t on the hook for thousands of dollars. According to the Insurance Information Institute, it costs between $150 and $300 each year for $1,000,000 of coverage.

Dog bites are not the only type of injury that can cause you financial ruin. This is a real-life example of how an umbrella policy can make a difference for dog owners:

A woman took her 7-pound dog, the son of her husband, for a walk. The woman met an older man who was walking his dog. The woman’s dog came towards him and the man became startled, losing his balance and falling off a curb.

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The man suffered a broken hip and had to have his hip replaced. He was forced to live in a long-term care facility. The woman who walked the dog was sued by the man and the judge ruled in her favor. She didn’t have an umbrella policy so she had to pay out-of-pocket for any man’s expenses beyond what her homeowners policy covered.

Insurance for animal liability

A separate policy for animal liability insurance is another option for dog owners. This is especially useful if your dog has a history of aggression such as dog bites or your home insurance refuses to cover your pup.

Dori Einhorn, who owns Einhorn Insurance Agency that offers dog liability insurance, says, “If you can cover the dog under your home insurance, that is ideal.” “But, if your homeowners policy doesn’t provide animal liability coverage, then you don’t have coverage.”

This is where animal liability insurance comes into play. This insurance can provide liability coverage to your dog, which fills in the gaps left by your homeowners, renters, or umbrella policies.

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The cost of animal liability insurance depends on many factors. Einhorn estimates that the annual premiums for her agency range from $400 to $1200 depending on the dog’s past. Even an animal liability insurer may not provide coverage if the history of the dog is problematic.

Einhorn stresses that you should first check your renters or home insurance policy to determine what coverage you have. You don’t want it to be too late. Insurers might change the types of incidents and breeds that are covered.