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Does homeowners' insurance cover dog bites?

In many cases, yes, homeowners' insurance will cover injuries caused by dogs, including dog bites and attacks.

For example, if a dog bites you while you are on a dog owner's property, you may be able to seek damages for your injuries under his or her homeowner's liability insurance policy, including compensation for your medical expenses. Oftentimes, the liability limits on these policies range from $100,000 to $300,000 - with the dog owner being liable for any damages exceeding this limit.

It is fortunate that this type of coverage exists, as many dog-bite victims would be left with little recourse without it, not to mention stacks of medical bills. To put this in perspective, California had the largest number of dog-bite homeowners' insurance claims in 2014 with 1,867, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). For many victims, these claims represented a much-needed lifeline when they had nowhere else to turn.

Many insurance companies are making some changes when it comes to dog-bite coverage

Given that more than one-third of all homeowners' insurance claim dollars were paid toward dog-related injuries in 2014 - according to the I.I.I. - many insurance providers are starting to limit dog-bite coverage.

For instance, some insurance companies are now charging higher rates - or outright refusing to insure - homeowners who own certain violent breeds, including pit pulls and Rottweilers. Others are asking homeowners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, or simply attempting to exclude dog-related injuries from coverage.

Sadly, as this type of coverage becomes less common, victims may be ones left holding the bag.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Dog Bite Liability", The Topic, May 2015

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