Working Dog Liability Insurance

Protect Yourself With Working Dog Liability Insurance

Special to the Sheep Industry News

Most farm and ranch or homeowner insurance does not cover dog bites – even though many sheep producers use both herding dogs and guardian dogs in their operations.
Liability claims due to dog bites are increasing, with more than $400 million paid in dog liability claims in the United States per year, according to Dave Bossman of Casualty Underwriters Insurance Company. Fortunately there is an option to resolve this gap in coverage for agricultural producers, through a new dog liability insurance program offered exclusively to members of ASI and its state affiliates.

“Even if your dog does what it is trained and supposed to do, if a third party is harmed, as the livestock or dog owner, you could be liable,” Bossman said. Working Dog Liability Insurance is available for producers who use working dogs that:

• are approachable by humans, in a safe manner

• live and work in healthy working conditions

• may come across people on the ranch or in public

• live in close proximity to their flocks or herds.

Livestock producers wanting to insure their working canine partners are asked to fill out a short application providing information about the dogs and the way they are used. After the insurance is purchased, a loss prevention manual is provided to the dog owner, outlining additional information on various risk factors identified in the application. Dogs that are easy to handle, well cared for, stay near their livestock and are wearing some sort of identification, are generally viewed as lower risk than dogs that don’t meet these conditions.

The insurance program offers a $50,000 policy limit per incident (the average loss is $25,000 to $30,000), with a $100,000 annual aggregate. All adult working dogs on a ranch must be covered, and there are premium pricing discounts for multiple dogs.

WDLI will pay valid liability claims resulting from dog bites, property loss or damage caused by working dogs, and trip and fall injuries caused by the dogs. It does not pay mortality loss of insured dogs or for medical care of insured dogs.

If the claim is not valid, legal counsel will be engaged. “If you have a claim, we’re going to defend your dog for you,” Bossman said. It should also be noted that cattle producers who would like to insure their dogs can join ASI or a state sheep association to qualify for inclusion in the insurance program.

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