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Canine Concerns: Proper Insurance Coverage

If you are a dog owner, your pet may be your loyal friend and constant companion. However, if you are a homeowner, your darling dog, Spot, could cause a few problems. Did you know that your dog’s breed could affect the approval or renewal of your homeowners insurance?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical care is sought every 40 seconds for an injury sustained by a dog bite. The Insurance Information Institute (III, 2008) estimates that dog bites cost the industry $3.5 billion a year. As a result, coverage may be denied to those homeowner’s who own high-risk breeds.

Case by Case

Sometimes dogs may be considered by their case history and temperament, but additional concerns may exist around breeds that have caused the greatest number of fatalities over the past 20 years, according to the CDC. Those dogs in descending order are: “Pit Bull,” Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Doberman Pinscher, Chow Chow, Great Dane, and Saint Bernard. Although the insurance industry does not have a nationwide list of “unacceptable” dogs, there may be varying levels of tolerance for each breed. However, some state laws prevent considerations of specific breeds.

If your dog’s breed raises concern, you may be asked to provide further information, such as whether the dog has undergone attack training, or if it has bitten someone in the past. If the dog does have a history of biting, you may need to explain what the circumstances were, whether it was provoked, and if measures have been taken to prevent further occurrences. For unprovoked attacks, you may be denied coverage or renewal, or need to add a disclaimer for the dog to the policy.

The CDC offers these tips to help prevent dog bites:
  • Be careful of the dog you choose. Make sure the breed’s temperament and inclinations are a suitable fit for your lifestyle and living situation.
  • Reduce aggressive behavior by spaying or neutering.
  • Supervise children in a dog’s presence. Teach children animal safety tips.
  • If a dog has a history of aggressive behavior, he may not be appropriate for a family. Furthermore, don’t teach your dog to be aggressive with games such as tug-of-war.
  • Beware of stray dogs or those who behave strangely. Leave unfamiliar dogs alone.
  • If a dog attacks you, don’t run and scream, and if you are on the ground, protect your head and neck.
  • A dog that is sleeping, eating, or has puppies should be left alone.
  • If you suffer a dog bite, you will need to report it to your dog officer at once.
If you are a dog owner whose dog is responsible for biting, it will be in your best interest to help the victim and report the incident. It will also be important to notify your insurance company and to cooperate in any investigation that may ensue.

Most importantly, teach your dog loving and trusting behavior starting when it is a puppy. By creating an atmosphere of trust and socialization, your dog should become well adjusted to its environment. This will also help decrease the likelihood of it lashing out in fear or anger in the future. Teaching your loyal companion and best friend good behavior is the best and only way to prevent bad behavior. Doing so just may help ensure your homeowner’s policy will be approved and renewed.

Copyright © 2003 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.


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