A Publication of WTVP

A recent study by Virginia Commonwealth University found that bringing pets to work can reduce stress and increase job satisfaction for other employees. The study consisted of 75 employees and found that those who brought their dogs to work were less stressed as the day went on compared to those who didn’t. Also noted was that stress levels rose significantly during the day when the owner left their dogs at home, compared to the days when they brought them to work.

If this trend continues, there may have to be changes made to the commercial general liability section of insurance policies due to the potential for dog bites. Based on the underwriting guidelines of mostinsurance companies, there is already some assumption that small business owners bring pets to work. If a business (insured or tenant of an insured building) has or uses any of the following animals, either at the business premises or in its operations, the risk is ineligible. The list of ineligible dogs primarily consists of the following breeds: American Pit Bull Terrier (also known as the American Staffordshire Terrier), Rottweiler, Akita, Chow and Wolf Hybrid. Also ineligible are guard dogs, attack dogs, dogs chained outside and any dog left at a place of business while it is closed. The homeowner policy guidelines concerning ineligible dogs are basically the same, and the exposure to potential dog bites is greater. I am sure the businesses that allow dogs at work have similar guidelines for those that are not welcome.

Most states find dog owners liable when someone is bitten, based simply on owning the dog. Fortunately, the victim’s legal damages are covered by most homeowners and renters insurance policies, and by general liability policies that insure businesses and public entities.

There are tremendous responsibilities and potential liabilities that come with owning a dog. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are approximately 4.7 million dog bites a year, resulting in 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. Half of those injuries are to people under the age of 18. Dog bites cost the property/casualty insurance industry roughly $413 million in 2010, and in the last decade, the cost of these claims has risen nearly 37 percent. When you consider that these types of claims account for nearly a third of homeowner’s liability claims, it’s important to do everything you can to prevent dog bites.

Dog behavior is a serious concern for everyone. Insurance companies often pay civil judgments for dog bites that happen on their customers’ properties. Those payments affect the insurance premiums policyholders pay, and a dog bite claim is often followed by a cancellation notice of the policy.

It appears that dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference with owners and other employees. However, there was no mention in the research about those who might be afraid of dogs or annoyed by the inevitable barking. Maybe cats are another option. iBi