Why your dog needs liability insurance

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pet-liability-101

By Barbara Marquand

Your sweet dog would never do anything to hurt anyone — right? But if it harms somebody else, and you don’t have the right kind of insurance, you could feel a big financial bite.

Liability insurance pays for other people’s injuries and damages, up to the policy’s limit, when you or your dog are responsible. You could be on the hook for some or all of their medical bills if you don’t have enough — or any — liability coverage.

The average liability claim for a dog-related injury in 2014 was $32,072, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. Dog-related injury claims accounted for more than one-third of the money that homeowners insurancecompanies paid out on liability claims that year.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies include liability protection, and many still cover dogs. But some insurers have gotten skittish. Some charge more to insure certain breeds, such as pit bulls, or ask customers to sign liability waivers for dog bites, the institute says. Some lower the liability limit for dogs or exclude dogs altogether.

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