When describing your new pet to your friends, a lot of details might come up in conversation. What’s its name? What breed is it? Do you have pictures? When your insurance company starts asking the same questions, though, it may give you pause. It’s probably not for the reason(s) you think. Not only can they take your new dog into account before issuing your homeowners policy, but also they can use it to determine your pricing. Here’s a little insight into why.
Your Dog is Included in this Protection
While standard homeowners insurance covers your furry friend, it’s not really pet insurance. Some companies offer this as a rider or an additional policy, but you should never assume that it’s included. Traditional pet insurance covers pet injuries and provides assistance with paying for veterinary expenses. Your homeowners coverage is more concerned with your pup from a liability standpoint.
In recent years, litigation related to dog bites or other injuries have increased drastically. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites every year! Approximately one-fifth of all these cases need medical attention afterward, but who pays for that? Well, the answer is (most likely) your insurance company. Most homeowners’ policies include liability protection that covers such damage and then some, which can extend into punitive fees from the courtroom. Fortunately, most standard policies include a limit of $300,000 with an option to increase as needed. Thus, unless the court costs/medical bills exceed this amount, you’re not going to have any out-of-pocket costs.
While this may be good news for you, insurance companies are starting to take additional measures to cut these costs. Such as asking extra questions about your pet(s) and using your answers to set both policy limits, as well as pricing.
Certain Breeds May Not Be Covered
Unfortunately, that’s also true. Due to the increasing court costs of dog-related injuries, insurance carriers are getting more selective about which pets they’ll cover. In fact, if you have a stronger breed of dog with a more muscular jaw, you could have trouble finding a homeowners insurance policy altogether. Although many people assume this discrimination is based on incorrect assumptions of aggression, exclusions typically target breeds based on build alone. Specifically those that are anatomically capable of inflicting serious injury with just one bite are considered more of a risk. Common examples include Akitas, Chow Chows, Siberian Huskies, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bulls, and even German Shepherds.
Regardless of how friendly your dog may be, many companies just look at the average number of bites reported from this breed as a whole. Keep in mind, this list is constantly being updated, so a breed that may be considered “safe” this year could find itself blacklisted in the future. So, if you own one of these pets, you may find yourself paying higher premiums or having to take out a separate policy just for your pooch.
Things You Can Do to Help
Taking precautions to prevent negative interactions with your dog is always a good idea. Your insurance company may even factor in safety measure like fences, obedience training, and socialization classes to qualify you for a better rate. You can also help to prevent claims by familiarizing your pet with other animals, as well as people, keeping them up-to-date on all their vaccinations, and minimizing the amount of unsupervised contact they have with strangers and/or children.
Keep in mind, different insurance companies have their own way of handling this issue, so working with a broker (like Freedom Insurance Agency, Inc.) will enable you to compare quotes from multiple carriers to find one that’s best for your whole family—pets included. Don’t be afraid to ask question! After all, we’re here to make sure you get the best possible policy for yourself and your family (including pets). So, give our office a call today to see how we can help.