Dog Owners - Are You Protected?

If a dog bites a person in Michigan, the dog owner is responsible for the victim's medical expenses, wage loss, out-of-pocket expenses as well as that person's pain and suffering. This is true even if the dog has never displayed vicious tendencies and has no history of biting.

Responsible dog owners carry homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance to cover these losses and their efforts should be applauded. However, carrying homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance may not provide the protection intended by the dog owners. Why? Not all policies protect against dog bites. Some exclude dog bites outright while others exclude specific breeds from coverage such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and the like.

If you own a dog, first check your policy to make sure it includes coverage for dog bites. If you do have general coverage, determine whether your breed is included in that coverage. If you have any doubt that you have dog bite coverage, contact your insurance agent for guidance. Although some may think insurance coverage is not necessary for small dogs, even small dogs can cause severe injury. In fact, it has recently been reported that a Jack Russell terrier killed a week-old baby.

If you own a dog and discover that you do not have coverage, shop around. Check with various insurance agencies, check online. Find an insurance company that will cover dog bites in general and specifically your breed. If you have a breed that is commonly considered vicious, you may want to consider obtaining an umbrella policy that will pay beyond the homeowner's policy limits in the event that your dog causes severe injury.