It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week (who knew?) and good time to raise your awareness about one of the hidden costs of dog ownership: higher insurance premiums or even outright denial of coverage. The
Insurance Information Institute estimates that U.S. insurance companies paid out nearly $479 million for dog bite claims in 2011, with an average cost-per-claim of $38,500. California led the nation in dog bite claims, followed by Illinois, Texas and Ohio. Here’s what you can do to minimize the risk of dog bites and hang on to cheaper homeowner insurance premiums.
While there is no industry-wide dog breed blacklist, different insurance companies may have policies regarding certain breeds deemed to be more aggressive and therefore more statistically likely to bite. They
base this on the average number of bites reported by breed. In reality, any dog will bite if sufficiently provoked, mistreated or mishandled. Training, proper socialization and gender can also be factors some insurers will take into consideration, whether your pet is spayed or neutered how the dog is confined
and your individual claim history. If you encounter an insurer that has breed-specific blacklists, shop around. Chances are there are other carriers who will write your policy. You can also enroll your dog in an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training course. If Rover the Rottweiler passes certification, some insurance companies will overlook breed restrictions.
But what if you have a mixed breed? Before you volunteer what you think your dog’s parentage might be, spend a few bucks to find out for sure. There are DNA home test kits for dogs available for under a hundred bucks that will clear up any questions and maybe put your insurance provider’s actuarial mind at ease.
Whatever you do, don’t lie about your dog’s breed. If you file a claim and the insurer finds out you misrepresented the facts they can deny your claim. You’ll be left holding the bag for any liability and it will
go on your record when you apply for a policy with other carriers.