BARK, BUT DON'T BITE

from Gammons Insurance Agency Inc.
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Jul 27, 2017

Your Massachusetts homeowners insurance policy covers the structure of your home, and your belongings, but it is also responsible for protecting you from liability issues. According to Investopedia, liability insurance is “Any type of insurance policy that protects an individual or business from the risk that they may be sued and held legally liable for something such as malpractice, injury or negligence. Liability insurance policies cover both legal costs and any legal payouts for which the insured would be responsible if found legally liable.”

Recently, we found some potentially surprising information over at the Insurance Information Institute: of the $489+ million dollars paid out in liability claims, over $108 million of the payouts were due to dog bites!

If you’re a dog owner (and even if you’re not) you don’t want to be involved in a dog bite claim. Here are some tips on how to avoid this situation:

Watch the dog’s body language

Dogs will typically give warning signs before they bite. If they are feeling uncomfortable, threatened, or nervous, you may notice them exhibiting the following signs:

A tense body
Tail that is stiff
Pulled back ears
Excessive yawning
An intense stare
Backing away

If you see a dog showing any of these signs, do not approach him or her. Slowly back away and avoid any sudden movements, and make sure that you don’t turn your back to the dog.

If you think a dog may attack

As we mentioned above, never make a sudden movement or turn your back on a dog that you think may be on the edge of a chomp. Instead, avoid eye contact with the dog and slowly back away. If the dog does lunge for you, use anything in your hand or within arm’s reach to put between yourself and the dog’s mouth. This could mean shoving a jacket, purse to them, or jumping behind a bench, bicycle, or bush.

Teaching your own dog

When you have a dog, there are three things that you can do to curb his or her urge to bite:

Spay or neuter your dog. This discourages your dog from roaming and fighting, and significantly decreases the chances that your dog will get aggressive and bite someone.
Socialize your dog early. As soon as you can, you need to expose your dog to all kinds of different social situations. This means that they need to meet men, women, and children. Make sure to introduce them to people wearing hats, men with beards, and all types of different people.
Train your dog. This one is definitely easier said than done. For tips on training your dog, visit this page on the Humane Society’s website.
Once you complete these three things, you can feel more confident that your dog will not pose a liability risk. Remember, though, that even the most trustworthy dogs will bite when sufficiently provoked. Watch your dog’s body language, and remove him or her from situations where a bite could potentially occur.

While it is certainly important to prevent a bite, it is also important to know what to do when you witness (or sustain) a bite. For a thorough walkthrough of treating a bite, check out WebMD’s page dedicated to dog bites. Also remember to call Gammons Insurance Agency at 508-947-3460 to ask how your home insurance liability coverage will help pay for the medical bills that were a result of the incident.

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