Guard Dogs and Animal Liability Exclusions
If you are considering adding guard dogs as a security measure for your self-storage facility, it is critical to be aware of the liability exposure involved and the need for specific insurance protection to address those exposures.
In general, guard dogs are permitted to roam freely in a building or fenced property during non-business hours. If you choose to use professionally trained guard dogs on the property, it is advisable to review your insurance coverage with your agent to identify exclusions that would leave you unprotected in the event of a claim or lawsuit. As an example, MiniCo's specialty self-storage BOP specifically excludes animal liability.
Understanding the legal responsibilities of having a guard dog, or even a pet dog, on a business premises is also important. Dog owners are strictly liable for any damage or injuries caused by their dog. In most jurisdictions, the liability rules of tort negligence state that the injured party only needs to show that the dog caused the injury directly or indirectly to be entitled to damages.
Signage on the property such as "Danger Guard Dogs" or "No Trespassing: Not Responsible for Injuries or Accidents" are not sufficient protection for a business owner. The first example is an admission of liability, and the second example is unenforceable.
Keep in mind that any dog permitted on the facility premises – whether it's a professionally trained guard dog or a personal pet belonging to the property owner, an employee, a tenant, or a guest – can create a liability exposure for the property owner. Schedule a coverage review with your insurance agent to discuss these issues and identify coverage to address these exposures.