PROPERTY NEWS - As timid as your fluffball may be, accidents can and do happen. All it takes is for a visitor to catch your harmless four-legged companion in the wrong mood and the next thing you know, you're knee-deep in lawyer's bills and medical expense claims. Luckily, there is a way to make sure you're covered should you ever find yourself in this undesirable situation.
"Most homeowner's insurance policies include a portion of liability cover that would pay out if ever an accident or injury were to occur on your premises," explains Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "This cover is particularly important for homeowners with dogs, because the likelihood of accidents or injury to visitors increases when there is a pet in the home."
In most cases within South Africa, a dog owner will be held liable for the damages incurred if their dog bites or attacks another person - whether that person was on their property or not. Sadly, Goslett warns homeowners, some homeowner's insurance policies won't pay out unless the injury occurred within the home. He therefore advises homeowners to take their time to read through the terms and conditions very carefully to find out what is covered by their policy and what is not.
Beyond this, homeowners should also do what they can to prevent injury to intruders. As counter-intuitive as this might be, South African law dictates that those living within cities ought to anticipate intruders and should therefore take reasonable precautions, such as putting up a visible warning sign that there is a dog on the premises, to prevent their pet from causing injury to others - including uninvited guests.
"Luckily, if the pet owner feels the claim is unwarranted, some homeowner's insurance policies will also cover any legal fees incurred in the process of trying to fight against the claim.
"Pet owners who live in high-density crime areas will therefore benefit from taking out a more comprehensive policy. Though more expensive, the policy could end up saving them hundreds of thousands of rand in legal fees," says Goslett.
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