I was talking with a good friend and she mentioned that she had decided to buy her kids a dog for Christmas. I was excited for her as we shopped and picked out toys and other accessories for their new pet.  In the midst of the excitement, my insurance brain couldn’t help but consider the potential risks that come with owning a dog!

The number one homeowners claim is a dog bite claim. The reason for this is because dogs are sometimes uncertain around people who they do not know.  Their natural instinct is to protect their owners and their puppies.  Sometimes, a dog may become so frightened around strangers that it causes the dog to lash out.  According to propertycasualty360.com, the average cost of a dog bite claim is $37,200.  Depending on your insurance company, you may have limited coverage or no coverage at all for this type of incident.

What would happen if your dog were to bite a friend’s child? Would you be able to cover the cost of the medical bills?  Failure to take care of the bills could cause unnecessary tension in your relationship with friends or neighbors.  If you fail to take proactive steps after such an incident, you could also run the risk of having your dog put down.

So what are some proactive things you can do if you decide to buy a dog? First, check your homeowners policy to see if you have coverage for this type of situation. It may be covered automatically, or you may be able to add it via endorsement.  Keep in mind, some insurance carriers have a blacklist of dogs they are not willing to insure because of their aggressive nature.  Second, consider increasing the medical payments limit on your homeowners policy.  Medical payments is a no fault coverage that allows you to pay for medical bills of non-family members up to the limit provided under the policy.  This is a simple and inexpensive way to provide coverage to others in the event that something would happen.  Third, consider putting your dog in a kennel when you have strangers over to visit.  If you are uncertain how your dog will respond, this is a great preventive step to take.  And last, socialize your dog regularly.  Most cities have doggie daycare or dog parks so that your dog has the opportunity to be around other dogs and strangers.

Buying a pet is a very big responsibility! By taking proactive steps as the pet owner, you can ensure it will be an enjoyable experience!