Liability issues and claims are proving to be more costly than actual physical damage losses under homeowners insurance policies.
According to the Center for Disease Control there are 4.7 million dog bites each year, and 50% occur on the residence premises. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites or dog-related injuries account for approximately 1/3 of all homeowner liability claims, and the average cost is more than $37,000. Carriers often decline writing coverage if there are particular breeds within the household, such as Bull Dogs, Pitbulls, German Shepherds, Akitas, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Siberian Huskies, and others that may exhibit aggressive behavior or have previously had a biting history. Some companies may accept such a breed if they are provided evidence of the dog’s participation in an obedience training course.
Another major issue of concern for homeowner carriers are swimming pools, since drowning is the leading cause of fatal injury to children between the ages of 1 and 4. Homeowners are required to comply with local regulations regarding the pool such as fencing and locked gates. It is also worthwhile to note that homeowners can be held liable for injuries to strangers using their pool without permission.
Trampolines account for over 100,000 emergency room visits per year according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Companies can refuse to provide coverage for homes that have trampolines on the premises or may place exclusion clauses or require safety measures, such as nets surrounding the apparatus.
The National Safety Council has reported that falls account for 26% of injuries and deaths in the home. Approximately 2.8 million children were treated in the emergency room last year for fall injuries. Tree houses have been the cause for many of these injuries due to the height of these structures, so carriers may exclude or decline coverage, or apply a surcharge for these risks.
Homes with guns on the premises increase the risk of homicide by 40% according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Insurance companies require that guns remain properly secured with safety locks and kept out of the reach of children.
Heating fires account for approximately 36% of home fires. Since many insurance customers use wood stoves as a secondary source of heat, companies now require proof that these were properly installed, adhere to town building codes, and have been inspected.
Other causes of potential declination of coverage are the presence of zip-lines and exotic pets at the home.
Homeowners (and renters!) should make it a point to discuss with their agents if any of the above situations apply to them. It is not worth jeopardizing coverage or having a liability claim denied if the carrier was never made aware of all exposures. To discuss your own liability safety, call a Gordon Atlantic Insurance professional toll free at 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Click below!