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Are Pet Owners Protected if Their Dog Bites?

Dog bites and dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims. Pet owners shouldn’t assume their homeowners or renters insurance safeguards them should their dogs attack.

Owning a pet is a big responsibility. You may remember hearing that when you were a kid, and it’s true.

All conscientious dog owners make sure their pets eat right, exercise often and visit the veterinarian regularly. They also properly socialize their dogs and educate their children about proper behavior around dogs, which can help prevent dog bites.

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About 4.5 million dog bites occur annually nationwide, and 20 percent become infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children ages 5 to 9 have the highest rates of dog-bite-related injuries, and men get bit more often than women.

Dog bites and dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims paid in 2015, with an average claim of $37,000, according to an Insurance Information Institute study.

Pet owners shouldn’t assume their homeowners or renters insurance safeguards them should their dogs attack, said Chris Wukovits, an insurance sales manager for AAA Northeast.

Some insurance providers don’t cover certain breeds while others will decline coverage or force pet owners to sign a liability waiver for any animal with a vicious history.

Even pet owners who are protected may find their premiums jump at renewal time. And some providers will cover commonly prohibited breeds, but with increased costs.

“You should review your policy or contact your insurance company to find out if you own a prohibited breed,” Wukovits said. “And don’t forget to notify your insurance provider when you get a dog. Failing to do so can expose you to liability that could be avoided by timely notification.”

Click here to learn more about dog bites. 

To speak to a AAA insurance agent or get a quote, visit AAA.com/Insurance.

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