TRENTON—The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey Inc. wants homeowners to be aware that it is essential for dog owners to be sure their insurance policy doesn’t exclude dogs.
“Dog owners must review their homeowners insurance policies to make sure they have protection in the case of dog-inflicted injuries,” said William R. Vowteras, CPIA, president of PIANJ. “Consumers should not purchase insurance policies without it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. With more than 50 percent of the bites occurring on the dog owner’s property, the issue is a major source of concern for insurers.
Dog attacks account for one-third of all liability claims on homeowner’s insurance policies said PIANJ. According to the Insurance Information Institue, in one year alone, the insurance industry paid out more than $317 million in dog bite claims. More than 50 percent of these bites occur on the owners’ property. Because of this, man’s best friend is sinking his teeth into your homeowners’ insurance policy.
It is possible that the question of whether you own a dog and the breed of the dog may be on the insurance application and most insurance companies insure homeowners or renters with dogs. However, if your dog bites someone, it poses an increased risk. As a result, the insurance company may charge a higher premium, exclude the dog from coverage or, in some cases, nonrenew your policy.
“If you have a dog or are considering getting one, call your independent insurance agent to review your liability coverage and optional personal umbrella coverages—just in case,” said Vowteras. “Your dog may always be your best friend, but make sure he’s not also your biggest liability.”
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional insurance agencies and brokerages throughout the state.
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