Dog owners: protect yourself from an expensive dog bite claim

Do you have a dog? If so, you want to be sure that your dog is trained, that you comply with any state or local restraint laws, and that you are adequately covered by your insurance. Although the number of dog bite claims is trending down, the cost for those claims is trending up – the average dog bite claim is now $37,214. That’s the national average so depending on where you live, the cost might be higher: Arizona was $56,654, California is $44,983 and New York is $44,320. Ouch.

May 15 through 21 is dog Bite Prevention Week. Learn how to prevent dog bites and how to keep dogs from taking a bite out of your insurance.

The Insurance Information Institute has some great information on Dog Bite Liability:

There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:

1) A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is automatically liable for any injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
2) The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
3) Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.

Also, see our prior post about 10 dog breeds that might cause problems with your home insurance

Some insurance companies will limit homeowners insurance availability based on dog breed or dog history. PropertyCasualty360 has an article on the 10 dog breeds most often blacklisted by home insurance carriers.

Many insurance companies don’t have a blanket breed ban. The MSPCA cites several national insurers that will instead “… work on a case by case basis, considering the individual dog’s behavior and history, and may require a meet and greet with the dog and/or a Canine Good Citizen certification.”

And here’s a good infographic from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

dog bite infographic

Next week: Dog Bite Prevention Week

May 19-25 is Dog Bite Prevention Week – the infographic below includes some interesting dog bite facts. The Postal Service commemorates the event with its annual ranking of top cities for dog attacks – they learned the hard way, racking up 5,581 postal employees attacks — just a small portion of the 4.5 million people in the U.S. bitten last year.

The Insurance Information Institute tells us that the average cost of a dog bite claim in 2013 was a whopping $27,862. They offer a list of the 10 states with the highest number and cost of dog bite claims. To learn more about the insurance implications of dog ownership, see our prior post Insurance and Your Dog

National Dog Bite Prevention Week 2013, May 19-25
Dog Bites by the Numbers

Your Cat Has an Important Safety Reminder for You This Weekend


If cats could talk, they’d remind you that this week is Daylight’s Savings Time so you need to set your clock ahead one hour. Plus, they’d tell you that it’s a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide detectors.

What, you think your cat doesn’t care?

Not true… the idea that cats are aloof is a just a myth — and we can prove it. Just last week, a cat named Meatball saved eleven people by waking its human when it smelled smoke in a French farmhouse. But don’t count on the cat detector method to save your family – change your batteries this weekend.

Check out this cute video, a Cat’s Guide to Taking Care of Your Human to see some other ways that our cats look out for us.

Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too

Last year, we posted a good roundup of Halloween safety tips for keeping people & property safe – particularly any diminutive zombies that might come to your house. There are also some excellent pumpkin carving examples and tips.

This year, we focus on pets. ABC News has posted Tips for Making Halloween Safer for Pets. Halloween is one of the most dangerous days of the year for pets because of the myriad of hazards it presents.

The abundance of candy lying around is a huge issue, since chocolate is poisonous to dogs. National Geographic has an excellent interactive doggie chocolate chart that tells you when to worry. According to the NRF, Americans spend close to $1.8 billion on Halloween Candy. That’s a lot of candy lying around just waiting to be ingested by animals. Not only that, but many of the wrappers are choking hazards for pets. Even the health conscious households who hand out boxes of raisins instead of candy should know that raisins are also dangerous to dogs and can result in kidney failure.

Here are a few more pet perils:

  • Heavy traffic to your front door gives your pets more than ample opportunities to escape. Many pets become lost or injured. Halloween is the second most reported day of the year for pets escaping, the first being the 4th of July.
  • Decorative candles may look festive but many pets receive injuries from them every Halloween. Whether it’s your cat knocking a candle off the mantle or sticking its head into a Jack-o-lantern, candles can burn and injure your pets if you’re not careful.
  • Owners who dress their pets in Halloween costumes should always maintain supervision. Many costumes poses choking hazards, overheat animals, or cause them to get tangled up and take nasty falls.

Lots of people don’t invest in pet insurance and that is clearly a mistake. If you don’t have pet insurance already why not connect with a Renaissance Alliance insurance agent near you?

The Indiscriminate Tastes of Animals

dog-diamonds.jpgWe frequently offer advice about protecting your property against theft and natural disasters … but what if the natural disaster walks on four paws? Recently, a Pomeranian swallowed $10,000 Worth of Diamonds. Dogs specifically seem willing to eat any variety of items lying around the house. Underwear was cited as the most ingested household item by dogs. A contributing factor might be owners tend to leave underwear lying around on the floor, but doing so may lead to an unplanned trip to the veterinarian.
This is not anything new, in fact the the lack of dietary discretion in animals led Sound Elkin, a veterinary imaging company, to sponsor an annual “They Ate What?” X-ray Contest. Entries included a hound mix that ate 309 nails and a Labrador retriever who swallowed a 5 inch paring knife.
Diamonds, nails and knives might seem obvious things for pets to avoid, but VetStreet complied a list of Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs and Cats that might not be so apparent. Follow the link for details on what makes these foods toxic to dogs and cats and to learn more about the accompanying symptoms. Here is a quick overview of their top 10:

  • Xylitol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Macadamia Nuts

Whether it is house hold items or human food, it is important to keep potentially dangerous items away from your pets. If your pet has swallowed something potentially harmful or poisonous it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. And if your pet is a compulsive and indiscriminate eater, in addition to a visit to the vet, you may want to visit your insurance agent to ask about pet insurance!