Insurance Industry Dog Breed Bans
If you've experienced a dog attack and need legal advice, please contact our California dog bite attorneys to review your rights. There are a lot of factors that go into a dog bite case and it can be very complicated. Our experienced team can help you understand and protect your rights. Call 1-800-561-4887 for a free consultation.
As the evidence and statistics mount pertaining to dangerous dogs and dog attacks, insurance carriers are coming down on dog owners. The two most popular tactics being used by the insurance industry is the banning of sales of policies to owners of certain dog breeds and/or excluding dog bites and other dog inflicted injuries from insurance coverage.
Some insurance companies include comprehensive lists of dogs that will void coverage or even policy sales, such as this one from AAA:
Pit Bulls & Rottweilers (No full bred or mix) Akita - including Japanese and Akita Inu Bernese - including Mountain Dog, Berner Sennenhund and Bernese Cattle Dog Canary Dogs - including Perro de Presa Canario Chow Chow Doberman Husky - including American, Eskimo and Greenland (Siberian is OK) Karelian Bear Dog Rhodesian Ridgeback Russo-European Laika - including Russian Laika and Karelian Bear Laika Any breed of guard dog trained to attack Wolf Hybrids. The foregoing applies to both purebred and mixed breed dogs.
Increase in Insurance Payouts
According to an analysis by the Insurance Information Institute, getting bitten by a dog costs a lot more than in the past. Dog bites and other canine-related injuries accounted for $530 million in homeowners insurance liability claim payments in the year 2014, which accounts for more than one-third of total U.S. homeowner claim payouts. While claims have dropped 2 percent over the last 10 years, the cost per claim has soared 67 percent. This is due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs.
The average payout for dog bite claims in 2014 rose to $32,072 from $27,862 in 2013 due to rising medical fees, among other factors. Also, California had the most dog-related claims in the U.S. with 1,867. New York racked up the highest cost per claim at $56,628.
Understanding Insurance Requirements and Coverage
Regardless if you are a homeowner or a renter, insurance is required and you are required to disclose your pet ownerships. Some insurance agencies will charge higher premiums to those who own certain breeds of dogs, but mostly they will either refuse to sell you a policy or exclude your dog and any injuries it causes from your policy coverage. This means that in the event that your dog does bite or attack someone, you will have to pay everything "out-of-pocket". The recent changes throughout the insurance industry have put a great deal of stress on homeowners and renters who own dogs that are deemed of a dangerous breed.
- Dog owners who do not have insurance for dog bites can lose their homes, their assets and their income as a result of a single dog bite incident, unless they are insured for it. Although a number of dog bites do not result in serious injury, the sad fact is that a significant number do cause devastating scars and disfigurement.
- Dog bite victims certainly deserve to receive payment for their serious losses, but if dog owners are not insured and do not have assets or income, then there is no way that the victim can truly receive monetary support.
- Society always pays the price of uncompensated, uninsured losses because the community ends up paying the medical bills, the state pays disability and unemployment benefits, and welfare pays the rest. This might result in the government taking action that might not be in the best interest of dog owners, namely banning certain breeds of dogs, or making it illegal to not have dog bite insurance.
Dog Owner Liability Insurance
As a result of the insurance industry putting breed bans in place, several new insurance agencies have formed. These new insurance agencies are in the business of offering Dog Owner Liability Insurance (sometimes referred to as canine liability coverage).
What It Covers:
- The cost of injuries to third parties caused by a dog bite or attack.
- Bites and attacks that occur on the insurance owner's property.
- Some policies cover property damage incurred by they dog.
- Policies usually come with a maximum benefit dollar amount. (The insurance carrier will only pay up to a certain dollar amount every year.)
What It Does Not Cover:
- Legal actions, suits or procedures. The dog owner is still liable to the legal system. You can still be fined or jailed by the county or state and the insurance carrier does not cover these charges.
Factors That Determine Eligibility:
- Whether or not your dog has a history of biting, attacking or aggressive behavior.
- Whether or not your dog holds any certificates in obedience training.
- Whether or not your male dog is neutered, as this tends to curb aggression.
- Whether or not your property is fenced and secure.
- Whether or not the dog is leashed or confined when outside, reducing the ability for the dog to come into contact with others.
In the event that your dog has been deemed vicious or dangerous, your Dog Liability Insurance can be suspended or canceled completely.
Justice for Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, it is important to understand that you do have legal rights and that you may be entitled to compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. You need an experienced California dog bite attorney on your side who will fight for your rights and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Since California is a no fault state, you will be able to seek compensation for a dog bite that resulted in moderate or serious injuries. Dog bite cases can include a lot of mental and physical injuries. Recovering emotionally from the trauma of a dog bite can be a long hard road. Be sure you explore all of your opportunities under the law including any medical care you receive.