VANCOUVER -- You may have added a new member to your family during the pandemic. Did you tell your insurance company about it? Pets are great but they come with financial risk.

There has been a reported surge in dog bites. One U.S. children’s hospital reported a 300 per cent increase, and it could be due to a number of factors a play including more stress in the home. When a dog bites, the consequences are devastating for the victim and can be financially crippling for a dog’s owner. Expensive lawsuits are common after vicious attacks.

Sandra Wong in Burnaby recently got a new puppy. It is a Bernedoodle named Ollie, a cross between a Bernese Mountain dog and a Poodle. She says it is her first dog and she chose it because of its docile nature. However, she is taking him to behavioural classes and receiving training herself to ensure he grows into a well-behaved pup.

“You can tell he’s a bit of an alpha male. You can already sense that in him,” Wong said.

Animals like people can be unpredictable. Sometimes a calm animal can be provoked and bite. Others can attack without provocation.

If you got a pandemic pet, you need to protect yourself.

“Let your insurance representative know that you do have a pet,” explained Rob de Prius, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“I just literally had to go online and click that I have a puppy now,” said Wong.

Typically, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance will cover you for up to $1 million in liability. The insurer will want to know the breed and size of your dog and other details including, vet care, inoculations, etc.

If you live in a condominium or rent, you’ll need to check your building’s by-laws before you get a pet.

“Review the by-laws because if they don’t allow a pet that could potentially invalidate your insurance coverages,” said de Prius. “Full disclosure is always the best policy.”

You also need to check local city regulations to see if certain breeds are restricted. The bigger the dog, the bigger the bite and if someone is attacked the injuries could be catastrophic and long lasting.

“I hope you never have to use it but if you ever do, you want to make sure that you’re covered fully,” Wong said.