Home insurance and dogs: Key facts to know

Dogs are man’s best friend, unless man owns a home and then the relationship is a little more complicated. The dog may remain the man’s friend if it doesn’t bite and otherwise provoke insurance claims. Unfortunately, enough dogs have brought grief to insurance companies that a red flag has been permanently raised about them.

If you are buying a home or getting a dog, it is best to proceed with some understanding of the implications of the situation. Following are some of the things to keep in mind about home insurance and dogs:

1)      What kind of a dog?  Not all of the furry companions have equal impact on an insurance policy. Some dogs are considered “dangerous breeds,” a designation that is affixed because of a history of the breed. Some of the dog breeds are predictable—pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, and wolf-hybrids. Others are more surprising additions to the list, including Great Danes and Akitas. Learn what breeds are on the list of your homeowners insurance company.

2)      First bite is given a pass. As a rule, if a dog is not on the list—a mongrel that the family got from the dog pound and is considered one of the children—a claim resulting from a first incident of biting is apt to be paid. Don’t count on the insurance company coming through for a second bite though.

3)      Help the dog help itself. If an animal is put in a situation where it feels threatened, even a dog with a wonderful disposition might resort to snapping at the perceived threat. Homeowners should let both dogs and visitors know the ground rules so that neither is surprised and victimized.

4)      Respond to a dog bite. If the worst happens and someone is bitten, a homeowner ought to take care of the victim quickly to avoid any liability issues. Let an insurance agent know of the incident so an orderly process of filing a claim can proceed. And then take steps to avoid a recurrence of the dog-bite situation—fencing or training the dog being likely follow-up steps.

A dog is a lovely addition to a homesite, but a homeowner must know the facts about home insurance and dogs. 

by Morgan Moran

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