December 23 2015
beware of dog 3

There are many expenses associated with owing a home. Apart from the mortgage, maintenance, property taxes, etc., there is homeowner’s insurance. The premium for this coverage is determined using a wide array of factors. One such variable is whether or not a dog is among the occupants.

Many insurance companies will cover dog bites under a standard homeowners policy. That said, some companies specifically exclude dog bites and some won’t issue a policy if a dog is in the home. A homeowner has other options, including an umbrella policy. Some companies sell coverage specifically for dog bite liability.

Those whose pooch is listed as a “dangerous” dog can expect to pay more. According to most experts, dangerous dog breeds include: Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chows, Great Danes, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Wolf-hybrids.

Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014, costing more than $530 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the III found that while the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased 4.7 percent in 2014, the average cost per claim for the year was up 15 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $32,072 in 2014, compared with $27,862 in 2013. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing.

So, sometimes Man’s Best Friend can be the insurance underwriter’s worst enemy. If you are a dog owner, as over one-third of U.S. households are, just be aware that one particular family member can cost a little more that you think. Check with your insurance professional to be sure.

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