Daniel Fisher looked into the issue of dog bite liability after a utility worker’s suit charged him with failure to confine his dog (which was in fact confined by an electric fence) setting off a scramble at insurance renewal time to find a way both to keep his house insured and not lose his beloved pet.
Why is a dog such a liability bomb? Blame lawyer-friendly state laws that make it almost impossible to contest a dog-bite claim, especially when there are only two witnesses to the incident and one of them isn’t talking. Dog bite claims now account for a third of homeowners’ insurance liability payouts, according to the Insurance Information Institute, at more than $530 million a year, up more than 75% since 2003. Some of the most devastating claims don’t even involve bites: A $100,000 “dog bite” claim might stem from someone running from the dog and tripping in your driveway. Dog-human contact is not required.