Should You Report a Dog Bite to Your Insurer?

Should You Report a Dog Bite to Your Insurer?

Here’s what you need to know about your dog and your insurance coverage.

As a dog owner, the thought of your four-legged friend biting and injuring someone might have never crossed your mind. However, contrary to what you might believe, dog bites are extremely common. With over 4.5 million instances a year, there’s a possibility that your pet might lash out. So, what should you do if your dog causes injury to a third-party? Here’s what you need to know about pet liability and your insurance.

Pets and Homeowners Insurance

Technically, your pet-related risks are covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Surprisingly, pet-related liability issues have a larger impact on homeowners insurance than you might realize. Data from 2016 reveals that dog-related insurance claims amounted to over $600 million in insurance payments. With this number in mind, it’s makes sense why insurers would want to know if you are a dog owner before issuing you a policy. If your dog is a breed associated with aggressive behavior, then home insurers may refuse to cover you, even if your dog has never bitten someone before.

If a Bite Occurs

If your dog does bite or cause other injuries to a third party, you might not know how to proceed. If the incident is minor, you might be tempted to pay for the damages out-of-pocket. This would help you avoid the insurance claims process and any potential premium increases. Additionally, as some insurers will refuse to cover your pet or renew your policy following a pet-related claim, choosing to cover medical costs on your own could prevent this from happening.

However, it’s important to understand that circumventing the official claims process might violate your policy. If you don’t report a bite and your dog bites someone later, then your insurer has rights to deny you coverage. Additionally, by paying out-of-pocket, you also face the risk of future claims from the affected party. For instance, if unforeseen complications arise from the incident, the victim might choose to sue you down the line. If you haven’t reported the claim to your insurer, you will not get the liability coverage that you need to weather this lawsuit. This, in turn, would leave you financially responsible for your own attorney fees, settlement costs, medical expenses, and so on.

Looking for further advice regarding pet-related liability claims?  Then do not hesitate to contact the experts at Steve Wilk Insurance Agency.  Our dedicated team is ready to assist you with all your coverage needs.  Located in Illinois, check out our new office at 310 S Main Street, Suite C, Lombard, IL 60148.