One of the most common causes of claims on the personal liability coverage portion of a home insurance policy is injury caused by dog bites. In the process of underwriting your home insurance policy, insurance companies will want to know if you own a dog and, if so, what breed of dog. Unfortunately, certain breeds of dogs have developed a reputation for being more aggressive or likely to bite people. The higher risk of biting translates into a higher probability of a liability claim, and the insurance company will adjust its premium accordingly – if they are even willing to provide you with coverage.
Recently, a story involving dogs and home insurance policies made the news around the country. In this instance, a sheriff’s deputy in Nebraska almost lost his home insurance policy because he kept his K-9 unit dog at home when they were off-duty. This is a common practice for law enforcement officers to bond with their canine partners. The sheriff’s department also provided liability insurance for the dog. Unfortunately, according to a story published by Insurance Journal, the home insurance company cancelled the policy after learning of the dog and that it was an aggressive breed.
While the incident with the sheriff was ultimately cleared up with the insurer, it does highlight how seriously insurance companies take the dog situation. In this sheriff’s case, the policy cancellation was rescinded only because he was able to prove that the sheriff’s department had adequate liability insurance. Without that, he would be just another homeowner unable to insure his home and personal liability because there happened to be a dog in the household.
Another lesson to be learned from this story is the fact that the dog was discovered as a result of an annual home inspection. Insurers have the right to inspect your home as part of their insuring process. Therefore, hiding or not disclosing the fact that you have a dog as an option to try and keep your insurance in place won’t work. Any effort to deceive the insurance company would be grounds for cancellation of your policy as well, and it can also result in a denial of any coverage for claims. Additionally, it may be considered insurance fraud, which would subject you to potential criminal penalties.
If you already have a dog and are concerned about the potential of being dropped by your insurance company, you are not alone. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a website devoted to the issue and is a great resource for dog owners. Being a responsible dog owner will go a long way towards avoiding dog bites and potential liability claims. The issue is not simply one of finding adequate insurance. You need to do your part as a dog owner to ensure the well-being of your pet and also that of those who may come into contact with your pet.
If you are considering the addition of a dog to your household, it’s good idea to do your research now. Understanding the challenges you may face with your home insurance might affect your decision to get a dog or, at the least, the type of dog – regardless of where you live: Arlington, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland.