Dog bites & insurance


cute but wary dog to illustrate dog bite risk

Two things you don’t want to be: You don’t want to be one of the 4.5 million people bitten by a dog in an average year, and you don’t want to be one of the 4.5 million dog owners paying for a dog bite claim. Last year, the average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $37,051. Even if your insurer covers all or most of the claim, the incident will be traumatic for the victim, for you and for your dog. It’s not a good situation.

California is the top state for dog bite claims – perhaps unsurprising, given the population. The state had 2,228 dog bite claims at an average claim cost of $40,563.49. Ouch.

Here’s a snapshot of the dog bite / claim situation here in New England.

State / Rank / # claims / Avg cost of claim
MA  – #14 – 429 – $34,117.48
CT – #15 – 418 – $39,910.23
NH – #38 – 86 – $39,306.26
ME – #39 -84 – $31,117.59
RI – #41 – 73 – $36,324.00
VT – # 48 – 36 – 37,370.76

This data is from the Insurance Information Institute – to learn more or to view other states see their interactive map on dog bite claims.

How dog bites affect your insurance

Will the liability portion of your homeowners or rental policy cover dog bite? Typically, yes, at least up to your policy’s limits, but there are some exceptions. The Insurance Information Institute discusses these:

Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls. Others decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed has been deemed vicious. Some insurers do not ask the breed of a dog owned when writing or renewing homeowners insurance and do not track the breed of dogs involved in dog bite incidents. However, once a dog has bitten someone, it poses an increased risk. In that instance, the insurance company may charge a higher premium, nonrenew the homeowner’s insurance policy or exclude the dog from coverage.

Some insurers are taking steps to limit their exposure to such losses. Some companies require dog owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, while others charge more for owners of breeds such as pit bulls and Rottweilers and others are not offering insurance to dog owners at all. Some will cover a pet if the owner takes the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior or if the dog is restrained with a muzzle, chain or cage.

Here is a list of 10 dog breeds that are sometimes blacklisted by insurance companies.

If you have a dog, talk about it with your independent agent when you shop to buy or renew a homeowners or a renters’ policy. Chances are, there will be no problem but be truthful even if you have a breed that might cause a problem. Lying on an insurance policy is never a good idea – it could be the basis for a claim denial or even a policy cancellation.

Many insurance companies aren’t breed-specific in their coverage. If you have a tough-to-place breed, your agent should be able to find the right coverage. But even if you have dog in a low-risk breed, things can and do happen. Even gentle dogs can bite under certain circumstances. Plus, bites aren’t the only exposure. From dog owners, here’s what you need to know about liability insurance:

Dig into pet-related policy details even if your dog wouldn’t hurt a flea. Bite claims may be the headliner, but they are just one kind of incident in a broader category.

“Technically, it’s a ‘dog-related injury’ [claim],” said Paul — the same coverage restrictions or conditions would typically also apply if say, your friendly, energetic dog causes injury by knocking over an elderly house guest or startling a passing bicyclist.

Whatever kind of dog you own, talk to your insurance agent about increasing your liability limits or getting an umbrella policy, which will boost your coverage. It’s worth discussing and considering the options.

In addition to limiting your financial risk, you should also take steps to reduce the risk of a bite occurring in the first place. Here are some tips from experts:

 

2018 Boston Marathon: Everything you need to know


Boston marathon runners

Marathon Monday is a big day in New England, but particularly in Massachusetts. First, it coincides with Patriots Day, which is a legal holiday in Massachusetts – one of only two states to commemorate the day as a holiday. As if all that weren’t enough, it’s also opening day for the Boston Red Sox. Whether you’re planning to be on scene for the action or you’d like to follow from the comfort of your TV or smartphone, we’ve gathered links to help you enjoy the day.

Boston Athletic Association’s official Marathon site offers complete event information, including spectator rules. Here’s a deep dive of some of the things you can find:

Weather is looking a little iffy. Here are a few forecasts for Boston Marathon weekend
from Dave Epstein and from AccuWeather

Here are the road closures for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon has 34 official charity teams. Here’s how you can donate to them.

The Boston Discovery Guide has great info on the Marathon as well as other Monday events.

 

Trucks & teens: Tips for safely sharing the road


trucks on the highway

Learning the rules of the road is essential for all new drivers, both teens getting their first driver’s license and adults venturing behind the wheel for first time. More and more Americans are delaying getting their licenses, and in an age that promises self-driving cars in the near future, that makes sense. But right now driving is still an important part of our lives, and safe driving is a rewarding skill that results in fewer accidents and injuries, lower insurance premiums, and lower public safety costs.

One of the scariest things that new drivers face on the roads are 18-wheelers. Big trucks are, well, big. And powerful. And they aren’t particularly nimble. New drivers tend to take them for granted or to become distracted by them. Both mistakes can have tragic outcomes. Knowing the rules and knowing what to look for around big trucks is an important part of road safety.

Scott Felthousen, a professional truck driver with more than a decade of driving under his belt, has put together a useful guide to safe driving around semis. While his tips are aimed at keeping teen drivers safe, the advice he dispenses is applicable to everyone.

In short, he advises:

  • Be aware of blind spots. Don’t assume the truck driver is regularly checking her mirrors.
  • Don’t linger. The safest place to be is as far from the truck as reasonable. If traffic allows, slow down or speed up to avoid driving in the trucker’s blind spot right next to the trailer.
  • Before passing a semi, check your rear-view mirror. Can you see both of the truck’s headlights in the center of your mirror? When you see those there, that’s the minimum distance you need to safely move ahead.
  • Give 18-wheelers the space they need. When encountering a big truck at an intersection, remember that truck needs a whole bunch of space to safely turn. A big rig turning onto a two-lane street is always going to need more space than the lane can accommodate.

Thinking ahead and being aware of your surroundings is a key part of safe driving for everyone,not just new drivers. Recognizing situations before they become dangerous and taking the right steps to prevent them from happening is a learned skill that new drivers should start practicing from the moment they grip the steering wheel.

New homeowners: Build your home maintenance tool-kit (infographic)


home maintenance tool box
If you are a new homeowner, your financial lender will likely require you to carry homeowners insurance, which is designed to protect your property from loss related to a wide range of unplanned or accidental perils. Take the time to understand what is covered and what is excluded because there are some disaster-related exclusions unless you have additional coverage – the Insurance Information Institute has a a handy guide to coverage by policy type—and what’s not typically covered.

You should also be aware that as an insured property owner, you have some obligations, too. One common reason for claim denial is a loss related to your failure to conduct maintenance. The Insurance Information Institute says: “It is your responsibility to maintain your home and take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold or infestation from termites or other pests.”

Step one in maintaining your property is having the right tools. While you may want to hire someone for the big jobs, there are a lot of little day-to-day repairs or chores that you can handle yourself if you have the right kit. Building a good tool kit usually happens over time because it can be costly, but you should start out with some essentials. We like this infographic about building a tool kit from The Fix. It offers a three-tier plan for essential tools, tools that you may want to add in for do-it-yourself projects and tools for advanced repairs. It also offers tips for tool storage and organization in the related article: Basic DIY Home-Repair Tool Kit.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Keep on top of vehicle recalls


illustration of cars in a car lot

Do you ever worry that you might have missed notice of an important vehicle recall for your car or truck? Who can keep up! Experts say that going into 2018, there are open, unfixed recalls on more than one out of every five cars. Thanks to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there’s an easy way to check if your vehicle has a recall notice.

First find your ride’s vehicle identification number( VIN). It’s unique to your car, and it’s located on the inside of the driver’s side door and on your sales documents. Snap a pic of it with your smartphone and save it with your important documents for quick retrieval. Then visit this handy NHTSA website and type in that VIN. Voila! Any recall notices you might have missed will pop up.

“Be sure that you are keeping yourself and your family safe, check your vehicle for important safety recalls today,” said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator. “Did you know that you don’t have to pay to fix safety recalls? Please visit NHTSA.gov/recalls to find out if your car or truck has an outstanding recall, and call your dealership for your free repair.”

For another source to check, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers and Carfax recently announced a partnership to offer a free service to check on vehicle recalls. You can check by VIN number or enroll for alerts.  According to current Carfax research, more than 57 million vehicles on U.S. roads have unfixed recalls, despite the fact that voluntary recall remedies are completed free of charge to the consumer.

Recall notices can be issued long after a vehicle’s manufacturing date, so it’s important to check regularly (twice a year is good). It just takes a moment, the repairs are free, and it ensures you and your family are riding in safety!