Dog bites are serious injuries, and millions of Americans soon find themselves in the emergency room for stitches, booster shots, and other medical treatment as a result of a canine sinking its teeth into the patient’s skin. Medical care is expensive, and many victims have tens of thousands of dollars in total losses, including lost wages and pain and suffering.
If you’ve been bitten, you might wonder how you can receive the compensation you need. Fortunately, most dog bites will be covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy, although there are exceptions.
Check if the Homeowner is Insured
After a bite, you should collect certain information about the incident, including the dog owner’s name and the location of the attack. Make sure to ask the dog’s owner if they have a homeowners’ insurance policy. Many homeowners do, simply because it is often a requirement if they have a mortgage. Get the name and policy number, along with a phone number you can call to report the attack.
Dog bites are often covered under a renter’s insurance policy, so if the person is renting then ask for their policy information as well.
Certain Dogs Excluded from Policies
Not all dogs are covered by standard homeowners’ insurance policies. Some will exclude coverage of certain “dangerous” dogs, such as pit bulls. Others exclude dogs simply because of their size and weight, believing (not unreasonably) that larger dogs are more prone to causing injuries. Still, other insurance companies will exclude any breed of dog if the dog has bitten someone before. They ask about the dog’s bite history in the application for insurance.
Value Penguin has a handy chart that shows what dog breeds may be excluded from liability coverage. This list includes:
- American Bulldogs
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Pit Bulls
If you were bitten by a dog that is excluded from liability coverage, you might still have options for getting the compensation that you need, though it could be more difficult.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite insurance claim in 2018 was $39,017. This information was gathered from homeowners’ insurance companies, which reported their settlement information. Remember that each case is different, and you might receive more or less than this amount.