Serving Northeast Jacksonville, Intracoastal West, St. Nicholas and Atlantic Beach, Florida
Dogs and Liability
At ARC we are very pet friendly and allow all sizes of dogs, therefore, we require tenants to obtain renters' insurance and in the cases of having dogs, regardless of the loving temperament of the dog, we mandate an animal/canine liability policy (if animals are excluded from your renters insurance, some do exclude them and some do not). Refusal to obtain renters insurance that does not exclude canines (such as State Farm) or a canine liability policy will exclude you from leasing from our company.
As stated in the lease, unlike a personal homeowner's policy, we as corporate Landlord's are not covered for our any of our tenants' possessions or for any damage incurred by their pets, service dogs or ESAs. Property owners insurance companies specifically exclude dangerous breed dogs, including all types of Pit Bulls/Staffordshire Terriers and police trained dogs, passing the burden and cost of the renters insurance with animal liability onto the tenant directly. See below link for an insurance list of dangerous dogs. However, some renters insurance policies (like State Farm) may not exclude damage from dangerous dogs breeds from their coverage.
Landlords are not permitted to obtain animal or canine liability insurance for a tenant's dog, the policy must be purchased by the dog owner directly. Landlords are also not permitted to purchase renters insurance which may not exclude canines/may include them (see your policy page if it also covers canines), which also must be purchased by the tenant directly.
The Landlord should be added as an additional insured for no extra cost. A copy of the policy indicating the Landlord as an additional insured must be forwarded via email, mail or fax to this office with your application to rent one of our properties and will be referred to in your written lease. Cancelation of the policy before the end of lease or failure to provide a copy of the policy naming Landlord as additional insured is considered a breach of lease.
If my dog bites someone what might it cost me out of pocket if I don't have an animal liability policy?
It is hard to estimate the amount of damages because of the number of variables, however, 3 recent Florida cases that had the following results:
1. In December 2002, a Broward County jury awarded $203,500 to an 8-year-old girl who was attacked by a dog and had facial scarring and emotional distress. The attack occurred at the dog owner's home.
2. In March 2006, a Pasco County jury awarded $200,000 to a 7-year-old boy who suffered from a dog bite to the face. This attack also occurred at the dog owner's home.
3. In November 2007, a Broward County jury awarded over $80,000 following a dog attack at a marina. The award was reduced because the jury found that the plaintiffs were 25% negligent.
Again, every case is different, and those recoveries were based on the facts of those particular cases.
An elderly victim's family also recently sued a dog owner in Florida for a barking dog that "scared her" and later resulted in a heart attack and her ultimately her death, despite never touching her.
In 2011, a Washington State Superior Court jury awarded a $2.2 million verdict to a woman who was attacked by two neighborhood pit bulls near her home in Tacoma, Washington. The woman sued the dogs' owners whose homeowners' policies were unfortunately limited to $100,000 each.
Therefore, an animal liability policy should cover the tenant for a minimum of several hundred thousand dollars, as private medical bills are so exorbitantly high in the U.S., driving up award settlements which are court awarded in effort to offset the victim's incurred medical costs.
As medical costs soar into the hundreds of thousands easily, and a single trip to the ER generally starts at $5,ooo out of pocket excluding any treatment, liability policies should provide adequate coverage to meet those exorbitant costs to the injured party. A few hundred dollars a year could save you several hundred thousand dollars or millions in damages.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns regarding this or any issue.
Possible local insurance agents familiar with Renters Insurance and Canine Liability Policies:
Sam at State Farm, (904) 641-6844 (for renters insurance that includes dog liability and adds the Landlord as an additional insured at no extra cost); Sandra at A&B Insurance for canine liability; and Lisa at Caton Housey. See articles to the right for suggested questions to ask about your policy.
Pet Fee: Our pet fee is $150/dog and the tenant is also responsible to clean the coils and flush the lines of the A/C every 6 months in addition to changing the filter monthly and vacuuming off the return for accrued dog hair.
Dog hair build up in the A/C unit leads to very costly expenses (one case cost $5,000 in damages) when the above is not followed, and is therefore, at the tenant's expense.
Photos, receipts, and documentation of the changed filter is due every month with the rent, and proof of the coil cleaning and line flushing is due via email every 6 months. Failure to submit this documentation is considered a breach of lease.
What if my dog has never bitten before?
Dangerous animals who have bitten before are excluded by the HOA and are ineligible to lease, due to liability insurance and safety issues. City laws apply.
Unfortunately, with dog bites or attacks there is always a first time. Dogs seem particularly unpredictable around children.
In a personal story, we had a German Shepherd growing up who was always loving and sweet around children. One day, she just snapped and bit an 8 year old girl she had known her whole life, and had to be destroyed. There were no previous signs of aggression.
Many dog attack cases share similar circumstances. Dogs get old, develop pain, get spooked and protect their owners, all of which can cause them to unexpectedly attack. Sometimes they see children as other dogs and attack.
Though cost is the least damaging part of an attack, a liability policy can help offset massive costs that the dog owner may incur in a suit.
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Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites?