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Should You Increase Your Liability Coverage?

As a homeowner, you are responsible for what happens on your property. If someone slips and falls on your property, you could face the ensuing medical bills, as well as court costs and legal fees from a lawsuit. 

Most homeowners have about $100,000 in personal liability coverage per claim as part of their home insurance policies. For many, that can be enough as the risks for personal injury on their property are relatively low and from somewhat standard claims such as slip and fall accidents. While this $100,000 limit can be enough for many people, there are circumstances where a higher limit may be a smart decision.


Do you own a dog?

He may be part of the family, but Sparky can be a liability, depending on his breed and personality. While smaller dogs may be feisty, the risk they present to people is less than bigger breeds like Dobermans, German shepherds, Rottweilers, bulldogs and others. A bite from one of these dogs could land you in court and on the line for medical and court fees. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. alone; almost 20% of these bites lead to medical treatment. 

While your dog may have been taken into account when you first got your policy, it's never a bad idea to talk to your agent and discuss whether additional liability coverage would be good for you.

Do you own a pool?

If you have a pool on your property, you've most likely already had to raise your personal liability coverage already, but it should be a continuing effort to prevent any accidents. According to the CDC, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury or death in the U.S. with (on average) about 10 people dying from unintentional drowning. Small children have the highest rates of unintentional drowning - 30% of deaths from an unintentional injury for children ages 1–4 were due to drowning, most in home swimming pools.

The best way to protect yourself against accidents and injuries on your property is to make sure everyone else is protected; keep pools and spas covered when they are not in use, and keep your yard or the pool area closed off. If children are going to be using the pool or even play in the surrounding areas, make sure that they are supervised at all time.

Do you entertain?

While the presence of dogs and pools are instant flags for accidents, parties might not seem so obvious. No matter what the conditions, having more people on your property means that there's a higher risk for accidents–accidents for which you could be liable. The risk goes up the more often you host gatherings.

Whether it's a burn on your stove or grill, or a car accident away from your home but caused by over-consumption of alcohol there, the resulting medical bills could end up being your responsibility. Talk to your agent if you do a lot of entertaining to make sure you understand what your coverage does for you and whether more could be necessary.