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Although the following scenario did not take place in Ohio, the names of the parties involved have been changed.

Phil and Christi got Jerry when he was a puppy. They raised him, trained him, took him on vacations. They could never have children, so Jerry was their family. He was one of the finest labs they had ever seen. They celebrated his fifth birthday in July 2007. He didn’t have a vicious bone in his body… or so they thought.

One afternoon in August, Adam, the four year old from next door wandered into Phil and Christi’s back yard, just as he had done many times before. Jerry must have been having a really bad day, because normally he loved to play with Adam. Not that day. When Adam approached near the dog, Jerry attacked Adam, biting his face and severely injuring his nose. Fortunately Adam’s dad was next door, and hearing his little boy’s screams, came running. It was too late. Blood was everywhere. Luckily, the doctors were able to repair Adam’s nose, but the scars would be permanent.

One day in October, Phil picked up the mail at the post office and found a certified letter from a law firm in Rochester. He and Christi were being sued for more than $1 million dollars by Adam’s parents. They called their insurance agent. They went to court in March, and the jury awarded Adam’s parents $875,000.

Phil and Christi’s homeowners insurance company paid the full policy limit of $100,000. So what about the other $775,000 they still owed. Well, they had $23,000 in savings, and their house was worth $170,000 both of which they lost to Adam’s parents’ lawyers, and they still owed $582,000. Every week a chunk of Phil’s paycheck is garnished to go to Adam and his parents.

Phil & Christi lost their home, their savings and a good chunk of their income. They wonder if they will ever get this bill paid off. All of this could have been avoided for about $150 a year if Phil and Christi would have had an umbrella policy. Many people believe umbrella insurance provides the most “bang for your buck” and if you were to ask Phil or Christi today, they would probably admit that they wished they had spent the $150 for the additional protection.

Unfortunately, you don’t have to have $1 million to be sued for $1 million. Alternatively, consider this: would you still love your dog if he cost you $875,000… that you don’t have?