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Liability Cllaims, insurance claims, dog bites, Virginia, North CarolinaFeeling the heat?  According to the calendar, the dog days of summer are upon us. It’s a great time for enjoying refreshing mountain breezes or cooling off in your favorite swimming hole. The last thing you want to do is to have to file a liability claim because the behavior of your beloved dog or because someone else’s pet turns these warm summer days in to hot summer nightmares.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, and almost 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected. These injuries also account for one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims, according to Insurance Information Institute. The best way to prevent a tragedy is to keep dog bites from ever happening.

Below is helpful information from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and The Humane Society websites: 

  • Spay or neuter your dog. This important and routine procedure will reduce your dog's desire to roam and fight with other dogs. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.
  • Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to many different types of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.
  • Train your dog. Accompanying your dog to a training class is an excellent way to socialize him and to learn proper training techniques. Training your dog is a family matter. Every member of your household should learn the training techniques and participate in your dog's education.
          Never send your dog away to be trained; only you can teach your dog how to behave in your home. Note that training classes are a great investment even for experienced dog caregivers.
  • Teach your dog how to behave
    Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don't teach your dog to chase after or attack others, even in fun. Your dog can't always understand the difference between play and real-life situations. Set appropriate limits for your dog's behavior. Don't wait for an accident. The first time he exhibits dangerous behavior toward any person, seek professional help from your veterinarian, an animal behaviorist, or a qualified dog trainer.

    Your community animal care and control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services. Dangerous behavior toward other animals may eventually lead to dangerous behavior toward people, and is also a reason to seek professional help.
  • Be a responsible dog owner
    License your dog as required by law and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. For everyone's safety, don't allow your dog to roam alone. Make your dog a member of your family: Dogs who spend a great deal of time alone in the backyard or tied on a chain often become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite.
  • Keep your dog away from stressful situations
    If you don't know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him at home. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery or service personnel, keep him in another room. Work with professionals to help your dog become accustomed to these and other situations. Until you are confident of his behavior, however, avoid stressful settings.

Insurance Coverage
 Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability. If a claim exceeds the policy’s limit, though, the dog owner would be personally responsible for all damages above that amount, including legal expenses.

The severity of claims, and their associated cost, usually varies by breed. Regardless of breed, though, any dog can bite. Even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when protecting their puppies, owners or food. The key to preventing dog bites, experts say, is to be a responsible dog owner and always practice safe behavior when you’re around unfamiliar dogs.

The laws governing dog bite liability vary by state.  Click here to read Virginia’s  and North Carolina’s laws for controlling dangerous dogs. Make sure to also check your neighborhood and local government regulations where you live.

To review your insurance policy or inquire about your existing coverage, contact Randall Hall Insurance. Give Randall Hall Insurance a call at 804-320-5499 or email us.  We can answer all of your insurance questions from auto and homeowners to commercial and life insurance. Randall Hall Insurance, located on Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield, is a full-service agency servicing both Virginia and North Carolina.

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