Have you seen all the cute ads this month showing adorable puppies with red ribbons around their necks gamboling in the snow or kittens peeking out from boxes under the Christmas tree? But adding a pet to the family isn’t as simple as these commercials make it seem.

“Many people don’t understand or take into consideration the huge financial risk and expense they may be presenting along with that cuddly puppy,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. (better known as Big “I”) vice president of agent development, education and research. “Pet owners are responsible for their pet’s actions and could be held liable if, for example, their animal bites or injures someone or causes property damage.”

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