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What Dog Owners Should Look for in Homeowners Insurance

written by: •edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 12/21/2010

If you own a home and have a dog or two—or more, is it possible to find dog friendly homeowner insurance? Some insurance companies may refuse to cover dog bites or property damage created by dogs. Jean Scheid, owner of six dogs, discusses homeowner’s insurance and dogs.

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    But His Name Is Marley!

    July 4 2010 007 Marley may have been a great yellow Labrador retriever, but when it came to his chewing antics, in reality, Marley could have caused much property damage both in his own home and to neighbor’s homes.

    More and more, insurance companies are offering up “high risk" dog lists while many organizations in states fight for breed discrimination laws to change. Some insurance companies will cover your home and property including accidents on your property but will also make you sign a waiver if you have a dog that’s on the high risk list. So is there such a thing as dog friendly homeowner’s insurance?

    For those of us who know Pit Bull Terriers aren’t all bad and Rottweilers can be a joy to own, they are indeed on that beware list and often, if you don’t disclose you own the dog, or your insurance carrier finds out after the policy has been written, you could lose your homeowner’s insurance in a flash.

    Bankrate offers up a list of dogs that are considered high risk including the Pit Bull, German Shepherds, Dobermans, the Presa Canario, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Chows, Huskies and wolf hybrids—or even a mix of any of these breeds.

    The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a statement on dog friendly homeowner insurance and dogs that reads:

    “The American Kennel Club believes that insurance companies should determine coverage of a dog-owning household based on the dog’s deeds, not the dog’s breed. If a dog is a well-behaved member of the household and the community, there is no reason to deny or cancel coverage. In fact, insurance companies should consider a dog an asset, a natural alarm system whose bark may deter intruders and prevent potential theft."

    Finally, InsuranceYak offers that dog insurance claims cost in the $300 million range each year—1/4 of all the liability claims filed by homeowners.

    Before you throw in the towel or get rid of your dog, there are some dog friendly insurance options you can consider.

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    Finding Dog Friendly Insurance

    July 4 2010 004 Here are some tips on how to find dog friendly homeowner insurance:

    • Insurance Companies – Some insurance companies won’t even consider writing a homeowner’s policy for you if your dog is on the high risk list—and every insurance company’s list of bad dogs can vary. Currently, State Farm and Farmers Insurance will write a policy but only deny coverage if your dog has a bite history. When shopping for homeowner’s insurance, ask potential carriers if they would cover your dog. If one insurance company won’t find one that will. Ask your friends who have dogs what company they use.
    • Obey the Rules – Don’t try and hide your dog from the insurance company—they’ll find out especially if the dog damages someone’s property or bites someone. The old adage that the dog was just “protecting" his domain isn’t a good enough excuse these days. If your insurance rep asks you to put up a “beware of dog" sign—do it.
    • Waivers & Riders – If you feel confident you can keep the high risk dog contained, you could consider signing a waiver to keep your homeonwer’s insurance premiums affordable. Or, you can consider adding a rider that will cover any doggie damages—but that may cost you—a lot.
    • Read Policies – Ask for a copy of what exactly will and won’t be covered in any given policy if you have a dog and if you don’t understand the policy, ask your insurance rep to explain it to you in detail.
    • Pure Bred Dogs – If you have a pure bred dog and belong to a national breed club, call and ask if they know of an insurance carrier that will cover your breed.

    Please continue on to Page 2 for more information on dog friendly homeowner's insurance including what to do if your claim is denied or your policy is canceled.

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    If you've looked for dog friendly homeowner insurance and can't find a company that will cover your dog, here Jean Scheid offers some tips on how to fight back and get your dog covered under your policy. You'll also find tips and links to state and private organizations that can help. Find out what the rules are on high risk dogs and homeowner insurance.
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    More Help for Dog Owners

    Denzel If you can’t find dog friendly homeowner insurance of if your policy gets canceled because of any damage by your dog or filed a claim that was denied, there are some things you can try—the AKC suggests the following tips:

    • State Insurance Commission – The AKC says if you can’t find a policy or if you’ve been canceled or a claim has been denied to contact your state insurance commissioner. They offer a list of offices for each state on their website.
    • Training – If you can prove your dog has received some sort of obedience training and passed the class, an insurance company may re-consider and write a homeonwer’s policy for you that covers doggie damages.
    • Join the Fight – Finally, the AKC offers a list of state representatives along with tips on how to write a letter to urge them to support dog breed discrimination.

    As dog damages and bits occur, and costs rise, expect more insurance companies to jump on the high risk dog list and only offer insurance riders that may cost a lot. Also, in recent years, dog attacks, dog fighting rings, and kennels that train dogs to be aggressive will raise insurance rates for those of us that have dogs and love our dogs.

    Shop around for dog friendly homeowner insurance—try visiting an insurance broker that underwrites for many companies—not just one. Some insurance companies like Einhorn Insurance Agency own dogs on the high-risk list and are happy to help customers find homeowner insurance policies that will cover their beloved pet.

    Finally, if you do own a dog that is on the high risk list, be a responsible pet owner and keep the dog on your property—this effort alone will drastically reduce the chance someone could be bitten.

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    References

    American Kennel Club retrieved at - http://www.akc.org/insurance/tips.cfm

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