Dogs & Insurance123

Up to 47% of American households have a dog, and for insurance companies, these households represent a risk. In 2013, homeowners insurance policies paid out some $483 million in dog bite liability claims. Obviously, insurance companies would rather not be shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars over dog bites. But what are they doing to cut costs and how does this affect dog owners? Homeowners insurance protects homeowners from liability claims. In the case of dog owners, this means your policy could cover the costs if your furry friend harms someone.

What You Need to Know

As a dog owner, you may believe wholeheartedly that Rover wouldn’t harm a human, but many people are caught off guard when they are the subject of a dog bite liability claim, or when they or their children are harmed by another person’s pet.

Owning a dog may make it difficult to find insurance.

With breed-specific policies, you may pay more for insurance or have a hard time finding a company to cover you. Breed-specific policies also create significant difficulties for renters, who find many property owners’ hands tied by their insurance policies and unable to offer good renters a home—simply because of a dog’s breed and regardless of whether a particular dog has no history of biting.

You shouldn’t lie to your insurance company about your dog.

The insurance company will ask about your pet(s) in an effort to determine their risk. Given the magnitude of the exposure on this issue, the application for insurance will contain various inquiries—what kind of dog, has a claim been filed previously.

While the questions could indicate reluctance to cover you, honesty is the best policy. Lying could have significant repercussions. Depending on the response, the carrier may decline the application. Being truthful is important. Failure to disclose may be grounds for voiding a policy.

You should understand how dogs affect your policy.

Being informed is tantamount to ensuring you are covered if something should happen. Dog owners should confirm that their homeowners insurance policy covers injuries arising from their dogs and that there are no exclusions that would prohibit coverage for a dog-related incident. Read your policy and talk to your insurance agent if you are unsure.

In many American households, pets are considered family members. But unlike other members of the family, your dog could cost you when it comes to insuring your home. As with most insurance matters, the best advice is to be honest with your carrier and informed when it comes to your policy specifics.

About the author: Joe Fiorilli