Beware of Dog

Ensure clients that own dogs are covered for dog bite liability.

Ever stopped to pet a cute, random dog on the street? Well you may want to think twice from now on.

State Farm reveals that about five million people are bitten or attacked by dogs in Canada and the US each year. In 2010, the insurer had nearly 3,500 claims due to dog bites and paid more than $90 million in claims.

In Canada, Ontario had the most incidents of dog bite claims with 19 in 2010. Last year, State Farm paid approximately $700,000 in dog bite claims in Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario (the provinces the insurer does business in).

Homeowners insurance typically covers dog bite liability, but brokers should speak to their customers about the dog’s history and behaviour.

“For an agent or broker I think it’s wise to have a general conversation with their customer about their dog’s behaviour, explore the possibilities that might provoke the dog in their current environment and, if necessary, discuss steps on how to prevent or avoid confrontations,” John Bordignon, media relations at State Farm Canada told Canadian Insurance Top Broker May 12.

For example, a dog’s tendency to bite depends on such factors as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health, and the victim’s behavior. There are good and bad dogs within every breed, just as there can be responsible and irresponsible dog owners, according to State Farm.

“If a dog is overly rambunctious an agent may ask if the dog has had obedience training or if the owner might wish to look into it to protect themselves from any possible incidents,” he added.

In recognition of National Dog Bite Prevention Week in the US (May 15 – 22), State Farm offers the following tips to encourage responsible behaviour and caution around dogs, including family pets.

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. Remember, under the right circumstances any dog might bite.
  • Start teaching young children, including toddlers to be careful around pets.
  • Children must be taught not to approach strange dogs. 60% of all dog bite victims are children under the age of 12.
  • Always ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting any dog.

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