Enthusiastic Hand Feeding Can End Up as a Dog Bite Liability Claim

It may be common to think that incidents involving aggressive pets and lawsuits always stem from incidents of aggressive biting, but a recent claim illustrates that although the destination may be the same, the road that lead there was an unexpected one. In this case, an extremely joyful and very friendly Golden Retriever was rather over-exuberant in his rush to get some juicy tidbits from the neighbor when he and his owner were out for a walk. The neighbor had been hand-feeding the pet, who was happily gobbling with gusto—and before anyone realized it, the animal confused fingers with chicken, and a small bite ensued. The surprise more than the pain caused the neighbor to fall back into the street, where she hit her head on the concrete curb. Medical costs to pay for the woman’s serious head injuries amounted to more than $40,000—an amount that the owner would have had to pay out of pocket had he not purchased dog bite liability insurance.

What the policy covers

Very simply, the coverage offers protection for pet owners in the event that a bite causes bodily injury. It stands apart from competing products because no breed is excluded from coverage, regardless of the breed’s reputation for aggression or otherwise dangerous behavior (e.g., Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow-Chow, wolf or wolf-hybrid, Akita, etc.), and policies are available for purchase in every state. What’s more, owners are often pleasantly surprised to learn how reasonably priced the coverage is.

It’s not always the teeth that get you

As the above scenario illustrates, dog bite liability is not only for those who own pets that many may consider “aggressive” or “dangerous”—because injuries can occur from unexpected occurrences having to do with your pet as you go about your ordinary routine. And since medical costs and claims can be substantial, it may be unwise to rely on the relatively small amount of coverage, if any, that a standard homeowners or renters policy may afford you (and too expensive to purchase other types of add-on policies essentially for this one risk). Talk to your professional insurance agent to learn more about this protection. Your agent can contact insurers that offer this coverage so that you’ll see that the peace of mind the additional coverage offers you may be available at a price that is quite affordable. Call your agent today.