Across the nation dog bite cases are on the rise, with major cities like Houston reporting a 79 percent increase in incidents in 2011. The effect such incidents can have on homeowners insurance for all dog owners is considerable.
Insurers maintain lists of breeds regarded as “most dangerous” and will refuse coverage to owners of those animals, or will exclude claims related to the dog’s behavior. Some suspicious breeds include: Doberman, Rottweiler, chows, pitbulls, and German shepherds.
Other breeds are considered “borderline” or moderately dangerous, and may also be regarded as presenting too great a risk. This list often incudes Great Danes, various types of mastiff, and even the Siberian Husky, In this breed group, having a certificate indicating the dog has had obedience training will often satisfy the insurer.
When adopting a dog from a rescue entity, inquire into the dog’s history or if there has been any evidence of abuse. Biting is often a fear response in dogs. The animal interprets the incident as threatening, and defends themselves in the way that comes most naturally to them.
Homeowners who are also responsible pet owners should have no trouble with their insurance company. When you get a new puppy, make sure you attend a training course with the dog. Unless you have a fenced yard, keep the dog on a lead when it’s outside the house.
If you know that certain situations make your dog nervous — like groups of people or squealing children — protect both your animal and your guests. Confine the dog for the duration of the event. “Love me, love my dog,” is a fine philosophy until you find yourself involved in a dog bite lawsuit.
Always remember that your insurer is in the business of assessing risk. Your own behavior can be as suspect as that of the dog himself. If you recklessly endanger the safety of others by being a poor dog owner, don’t expect your insurer to pay benefits when something happens. And remember, they can use your animal’s behavior as an excuse to revoke your home coverage completely.