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Habitat Magazine October 2020 free digital issue

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Dog Bites Man, Man Sues Board

And now a multiple-choice quiz. What event accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner liability insurance claims paid out nationally in 2016, to the tune of $600 million? Was it: (a) slipping and falling; (b) swimming pool accidents; (c) water damage; (d) dog bites; or (e) acts of God?

If you answered (d) dog bites, you get a gold star and a good reason to implement a no-pet policy in your co-op or condo. According to new figures released by the New York-based Insurance Information Institute and the insurer State Farm, a total of $58 million in dog-bite claims was paid in New York State last year, second only to California’s $76.3 million. However, New York State took top honors in cost per claim at a stunning $55,671, well above the national average of $33,230.

“Whether you’re a co-op or a condo, you want to make sure you have adequate coverage,” advises Loretta Worters, a vice president at the Insurance Information Institute. “We recommend underlying coverage of about $300,000 minimum. Then you should add an umbrella policy, which costs about $50 a year per million dollars in added coverage. Boards should have at least $1 million in coverage.”

Ed Mackoul, president of Long Island-based Mackoul & Associates, has been an insurance broker for two decades but admits he was surprised to learn that dog bites account for such a huge chunk of liability claim payouts. “I knew it was in the top five,” he says, “but I didn’t know it was number one.”

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