Dog Owners: Understand Your Liability Coverage

Christy D. Lightfoot, Senior Vice President, Univest Insurance, Inc.

Christy D. LightfootUnivest Insurance Inc.For many people, dogs are a part of the family. So when dog bites occur, the associated liability claim and outcome – potentially having to give the dog away – can be heartbreaking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. These injuries account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

When applying for insurance, the insurance company may ask whether you own a dog and what type of breed. Depending on the answer, the company could charge more premium for the dog exposure. They may even elect not to write the coverage at all. In the event a dog is involved in a biting injury, the insurance company can require owners to take the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior or remove the dog entirely from the household.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability as part of the standard policy’s liability coverage. If the claim exceeds the policy limit, the dog owner will be personally responsible for all damages above that amount, including legal expenses.

The laws governing dog bite liability can vary by state and, like all aspects of personal insurance, coverage is regulated by individual states. If you own a dog, it is important you understand your policy. To review your coverage, or for more information, contact a Univest Insurance advisor at 800-220-3077 or

Insurance products offered through Univest Insurance, Inc., a licensed insurance agency affiliate of Univest Corporation, are obligations of and underwritten by unaffiliated insurance companies. They are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency of the United States and are not deposits of or guaranteed by any bank. The purchase of insurance is not a condition of any banking product or service and will not affect credit decisions.

Univest Financial Discovery Financial Discovery