Friday, May 24, 2013

Do You Have A Dog? Do You Have Insurance? Are you sure?


Earlier this year Farmers Insurance changes their animal liability coverage to exclude breeds of dogs they had previously covered. What that means to you is that if your family pet is Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American Staffordshire Terriers, Boxer, Chow, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Husky, Pit Bull, Presa Canario (Canary dog), Rottweiler, Staffordshire Terriers , Wolf-dogs and Wolf hybrids, you no longer have coverage with Farmers. Many carriers already exclude these breeds as well as others.  Check with your agent for carrier to be sure.

I know, Petunia the Pit Bull sleeps with the kids and would never harm a fly. It's not about your dog, trust me. I had a neighbor that had a Doberman  that would run up, lick my arm and expect to be petted whenever we where both out front.

What it is about is claims statistics. These breeds tend to have higher insurance claims associated with them than others. A German Sheppard has more bite claims than an English Hound. Dog bite claims cost insurance carriers close to $479 million in 2011 and the cost is rising. Whats more is that now some carriers are unwilling to insure a property where prohibited breed dog lives even if animal liability coverage is waived.

So why would they not insure me if I don't have coverage for my dog? If my dog bites somebody, I would have to pay for it myself, right? Sorta. Part of the problem is the way that many dog bite laws are written and interpreted and the other is that to get around the exclusion in civil court, lawyers are pointing to the fact that you are liable for what happens on the property and you do have liability coverage for that. Its a catch 22 for insurance carriers who don't what to cover high risk breeds, but still want your business. Again, check with your carrier or call your agent.

There are still a handful of carriers that will insure your property no matter what kind of dog you have. Some may still exclude coverage for any harm caused by the animal, other won't. You can also purchase a policy that will cover only your dog if they bite somebody. Sites like F.I.D.O will provide coverage for your pet and you can even put more than one dog on the policy and buy it all online.

In short, be honest with your agent about the type of  pets you have. Remember  an inspector will visit the property  and note the type of pet you have. If there is a claim, the claims adjuster will also note the type of dog you have and if it's excluded, your claim will be denied. Not a good time to find out that they kid that hopped the fence and got bit is now going to have your savings account too.

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