Visitor Question

Does homeowners insurance have to cover injuries from a dog bite?

Submitted By: Elsie (Albuquerque, NM)

One afternoon my neighbor rang the doorbell. Some children visiting me opened the door before I could get there, and my dog got out and bit my neighbor. I asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital and she refused because she was on drugs, now she is suing me for the bite and my homeowners insurance states they don’t cover that.

I though all homeowners insurance carried a liability policy that would cover this type of thing? I do have a “Beware of Dog” sign on my property at the front door and now that my insurance refuses to contact her attorney I am not sure what to do. Is it true my homeowners insurance doesn’t have to cover this? What options do I have? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Elsie,

You’re most likely carrying what’s referred to as an HO-3 homeowners policy.

Read Section 11 – “Liability Coverage”

“E. Personal Liability” covers injuries to persons other than family members who are injured on your property. This coverage also includes supplying a lawyer to defend you in case you are sued by a person injured on your property.

“F. Medical Payments to Others” covers medical payments to persons, other than family members who are injured on your property.

However, homeowners insurance will not cover injuries to others when those injuries were intentionally inflicted on others by you or a family member.

It’s difficult to understand why your insurance company is refusing coverage. Unless your insurance company is considering your dog’s bite an intentional act, your policy should provide coverage up to your policy limits.

If your homeowners insurance company continues to deny your claim, speak with an attorney. Bad Faith denial of legitimate homeowners claims can subject insurance companies to severe penalties, including punitive damages of thousands of dollars well above the initial claim.

You can read a full H0-3 homeowners insurance policy here.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 1, 2015

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