March means a lot of melting and re-freezing here in Calgary, so there even though spring is nigh there continues to be the danger of icy and wet sidewalks, porches and steps around your home. No one likes to think about an accident occurring on your property, but it is important to know the risks and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your visitors.
If an accident happens while someone is visiting your home, you could be held responsible, and that liability could be very costly if the person incurs severe injuries. Proper Calgary home insurance with comprehensive liability coverage is the key to protecting yourself from accident claims, and it is just as important to help minimize the risks of accidents and injuries from even occurring.
Keep Your Home Safe From Accidents
Unfortunately, cold weather means home accidents are more common at this time of year. In Calgary, private property owners (or occupants if you rent) are responsible for removing snow or ice from the sidewalks adjacent to your property within 24 hours of falling. To protect yourself, your family and visitors (don’t forget your mail carrier!), you need to clear your driveway, steps and porch as well. But snow and ice isn’t the only risk for slip-and-fall accidents. There are other factors that could put your visitors at risk of an injury, including:
- Uneven concrete or pavement
- Cracked or crumbling steps
- Debris on walkways
- Lack of stair rails
- Equipment or ladders left out
- Poorly lit walkways
- Home construction or yard work that hasn’t been roped off
It is important to note that in order for you to be held legally responsible, you have to have either caused the dangerous situation or have done nothing about it.
The Insurance Information Institute (based in the United States) reported that nearly one third of paid liability claims in 2009 resulted from dog bites. The Insurance Bureau of Canada doesn’t keep track these statistics, but a spokesman believes they would be similar. In 2009, the average payout for a dog bite was almost $25,000 US. If you are a dog owner, here a few things to consider:
- Over half of dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property.
- About 4.7 million people are bitten in the United States every year.
- 900,000 (including 450,000 children) need medical attention after a bite.
- Injury rates are typically higher for boys than for girls.
- The most commonly injured age group is children aged 5-9.
The best way to avoid liability risks from a dog is to make sure you’re your pet doesn’t have a chance to bite someone in the first place. Remember, no matter how well trained, friendly, or loving your dog may seem, he or she will react to a perceived threat. Keep your pet inside your home or backyard away from strangers. When someone comes on your property, be sure your dog is properly restrained. If your dog does happen to cause an injury, most home insurance policies with liability coverage will protect you, but such an accident will likely mean an increase in future premiums or the exclusion of the dog from your insurance. Always be sure your insurer knows you have a dog, so you will know you are covered in case of an attack.
There are potential hazards in and around every home, but regular maintenance and responsible pet management can help reduce your risks of liability. Most importantly, protect yourself, your family, and your visitors with the right Calgary home insurance, so you know that everyone on your property is safe—no matter what happens.
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