That’s Not My Dog: An Overview of Dog Liability in British Columbia


Published August 2004

While dogs may be man’s best friend they are rapidly becoming a very real enemy for the insurance industry. According to the Insurance Information Institute in 2002 the property/casualty insurance industry in the United States paid out $ 345.5 million dollars in dog bite liability claims accounting for almost 25% of claims made under homeowners/renters policies. It has been estimated that, in the United States, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people annually.

In the United States, this situation has been described as reaching “epidemic” proportions and the same could also be said in this country. Canada has about 10% of the population of the United States, and the Canada Safety Counsel estimates that about 460,000 Canadians (10% of the U.S. figure), are bitten by dogs each year. In addition, several recent high profile dog bite incidents have brought the issue to the forefront of insurers’ minds with some insurers going so far as to refuse to underwrite insurance for homeowners with certain dog breeds.

This paper will explore the liability exposure of an owner who’s dog, unlike in the titular joke, does indeed bite.

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