Q: We have a small mixed-breed dog that is prone to nipping. While
he has never really bitten anyone hard enough to break the skin, we’re
concerned about our liability should a significant bite occur. Does our
homeowner’s policy protect us in this instance?

A: In a typical year, dog bites account for a third of all homeowner’s
liability claims. So, yes, in most cases, your homeowner’s policy will
cover a dog bite. However, many insurance companies now refuse to
provide policies to owners of aggressive breeds. Some of the commonly
excluded breeds include Rottweilers, German shepherds, and pit bulls.

Many dogs can certainly cause a lot of damage to a home, but that’s not
where the insurance company’s concern lies. They are primarily
worried about the possibility of your dog hurting someone and a
resulting lawsuit. Medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages can
really add up.

While your homeowner’s policy will cover dogs, cats, and other
common household pets, exotic pets are often excluded. If you have a

pet lion or venomous snake, you can still get a policy to cover the
liability such a pet creates, but it can be very expensive.

Contact your insurance agent if you have any questions or concerns. If
you have a dog that is known to bite, consider hiring a professional
trainer to help curb the dog’s aggressive behavior. Be sure you have
the coverage you need in case a serious dog bite occurs in the future.


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