Americans love their dogs. In many households, canines are considered part of the family, participating in daily and weekend activities, along with other family members.
Though dogs can be loving and fun—and offer never-ending companionship—they can also be unpredictable: sweet and docile one minute, and aggressive and dangerous the next, depending on the situation.
With risk like that, homeowners who are dog owners should carefully consider the dog/s they choose to be part of the family and consult with their insurance company before bringing those cute little canines home for good.
Insurers Getting Skittish
Liability insurance covering dog bites and injury should be a part of every dog owner’s financial portfolio. But for those who own certain breeds, finding an insurance company willing to offer coverage for dog bite or injury may be difficult.
In fact, some insurers are beginning to:
- Deny coverage on certain types of dogs
- Opt not to cover dog bite or other damage dogs cause
- Limit the number of people in the household covered
- Limit coverage extending to particular animals with a history of aggression, or
- Non-renew the policies of those who purchase certain types of dog
Why is this happening? Consider these facts, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DogBiteLaw.com:
- One-third of all homeowners claims involve dog bites.
- Dogs bite nearly five million Americans every year.
- Children are the victims of most serious attacks.
- Almost one in five require medical attention, with reconstructive surgery often needed.
- Dogs cause approximately $1 billion in medical and insurance losses annually.
With statistics like those, you can see why insurers are becoming much more selective about insuring household pets—and why rates for dog owners often run much higher than for non-owners.
Insuring ‘Problem’ Dogs
Which dogs make getting insured most troublesome? The CDC published a ‘most dangerous breed’ list, and insurers tend to use it to determine liability insurance rates, along with other factors like the dog’s weight, age, gender and history.
For those who own one of these top ten offending breeds, getting—or remaining—insured may present the most challenge:
—Pit Bull Type
If you own one of these breeds of dogs and are wondering what it’ll cost to insure it, here’s a general guideline: You can usually get about $100,000 worth of coverage for $700 to $1,000 per year.
However, due to the inflated cost of medical care these days, many experts recommend you get at least $300,000 in dog bite coverage in case of severe injury. Otherwise, if your dog bites or injures someone, you’ll be paying the difference out of your own pocket.
In addition, if your dog has a history of biting or seriously injuring someone else, you may pay 30 to 50 percent more for the privilege of owning and insuring it.
Making Sure You’re Covered
If you’re not sure whether or not your insurance policy extends coverage to your dog, read the fine print or call your agent to find out.
If you find out the dog isn’t covered, you might want to consider purchasing a personal umbrella liability policy, which increases the amount of liability insurance your insurer will pay out on. This protects you from financial harm and devastation if your dog hurts someone and you’re held liable.
No matter what kind of dog you own, we hope you enjoy it for years! Meanwhile, talk to an InsureMe agent to make sure your dog—and you—have the insurance protection you need.
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