Who pays when a dog bits a child in your family child care home?
Your homeowners insurance policy will not pay because it excludes coverage for accidents arising out of your business.
Your business liability insurance policy typically excludes coverage for dog bites. You may be able to get dog bite coverage for an additional fee or for specific breeds of dogs.
Therefore, since the incident happened in your home, you will probably be held responsible. Some states have laws that make dog owners automatically liable for any injury caused by a dog, even without provocation. Other states will hold the dog owner liable if the injury occurred because the owner was unreasonably careless in controlling the dog. In a few states the dog owner will only be held liable after the second bite (“vicious dog”).
What can a dog bite cost you?
The average cost of a dog bite paid out by homeowners insurance policies in 2011 was $29,396 (up 12.3% from 2010). The average cost of dog bite claims has increased by over 53% between 2003 and 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
If a parent sues you after a dog bites her child, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees and medical expenses. Your homeowners insurance policy won’t help you and your business liability insurance may not, unless you have it specifically included in your coverage.
Therefore, it’s vital that you keep all dogs away from day care children. I have spoken with providers who tell me that their dog mingles with day care children and would never hurt a child. Maybe. But, if you do this you are taking on a big financial risk. If it happens once, the cost of a single dog bite can be huge.
Thanks to Liz Downs of New England Insurance Services.
Image credit: elitelawyerproject.com