Friday, October 2, 2009

Dogs and Insurance

I love my dog. He is a big dumb oaf that loves us with all his heart. His name is Jake and he is about 8 years old(not sure exactly because we got him from another family). He is a yellow lab as you see in the picture and he allows us to do silly things to him like make him lay on the couch while we show how big our son has gotten.
Jake does dumb things all the time like run away, and eat balls of tinfoil that he finds in the garbage. Luckily, Jake has never seriously injured anyone, although he did jump on our neighbor and break the skin which resulted in the City of Milwaukee sending over some police officers to check out the vicious dog we had.
I am mentioning this because I just read the following fact "Dog bites account for 1/3 of all homeowners liability claims" The average cost of a dog bite claim in 2008 was $24,461!!!! That number amazed me, I knew insurance companies were nervous about dogs but now I know why.
The other reason I wanted to write this post is to clarify a common question I get from clients. What kind of dogs will insurance companies not cover? The main breeds which insurance companies do not want to cover are: Rottweilers, Pittbulls, Akita, Chow, Presa Canario, Wolf Hybrids, and Shar-Pei. I personally am of the opinion that all of these dogs might be fine in the right setting, except maybe the Wolf Hybrid, but insurance companies tend to be pessimistic whereas agents tend to be optimistic. The important thing is that if you do have one of these breeds make sure you communicate it prior to getting a policy. The last thing you want is to get a new policy only to have it cancelled when the inspector sees your dog. At which point you may or may not be able to find a new policy willing to cover your breed.
The last thing I will mention is that any damage a pet of yours causes to your own home will not be covered by your home insurance. This is a standard exclusion on Homeowners policys, just ask my parents. My childhood dog, Domer, chewed up almost all of the woodwork in their house causing thousands of dollars of damage and the policy couldn't reimburse them a nickel. Domer survived, probably because my father doesn't own a shotgun, but the house was in pretty bad shape.
Just something for all of you dog owners to chew on. :)