"Dangerous Dog" Registration

Subchapter D, Chapter 822, Health and Safety Code

The Texas Health and Safety Code is significant to insurance agents because of its requirement for a certificate of liability insurance for owners of "dangerous dogs." (See Chapter 822, Subchapter D)

A dangerous dog is defined as one that makes an unprovoked attack on a person or commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept. The owner of such an animal is required to register with the local animal control authority and present proof of liability insurance coverage or show financial responsibility in an amount of at least $100,000 to cover damages resulting from an attack causing bodily injury. Failure to comply with these requirements is a Class C misdemeanor.

Under this law, a dog is just a dog until the first attack, at which time it becomes a dangerous dog. A second offense is quite serious; it is a Class C misdemeanor, unless the attack causes serious injury or death in which case the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. In addition to criminal prosecution, the owner is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 payable to the county or municipality.

Agents may receive requests for certificates of insurance on homeowners policies as a result of this law. Under the cancellation guidelines applicable to homeowners policies, it would not be permissible to cancel the policy or restrict the coverage or refuse to issue the certificate. Nonrenewal of the policy would be permissible with 30 days notice.