If you’ve ever thought about adopting a dog, October just might be the month to do so. The American Humane Society promotes its “Adopt-a-Dog Month” every October and with only a few days left before we turn the calendar to November, time is running out to be a hero for a rescue dog.
“If you haven’t yet experienced that remarkable power of the human-animal bond, American Humane encourages you to consider adopting a dog and finding out just how life-changing it can be,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “With so many dogs in shelters all across our country available for adoption — and many of them never finding a safe, loving, forever home — adopting a dog will make you a hero, too.”
There are, of course, insurance concerns when you bring a dog into your family and home. As noted on the Insurance Information Institute’s website, about 77.8 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States according to a 2015/2016 survey from the American Pet Products Association. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention posits about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. About 885,000 of these individuals require medical treatment, half of which are children.
Because of this, it is not uncommon for some insurance companies to refuse homeowners and/or renters coverage (which protects against dog bites) to owners of certain breeds categorized as dangerous. There are some companies who will determine coverage on a case-by-case basis regardless of breed.
To give some perspective, consider this information (also from I.I.I.’s website, linked above):
Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing more than $570 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®. An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that while the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased 7.2 percent in 2015, the average cost per claim for the year was up 16 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $37,214 in 2015, compared with $32,072 in 2014. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 94 percent from 2003 to 2015, 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. California continued to have the largest number of claims in the U.S. at 1,684. Illinois had the second highest number of claims at 931. Arizona had the ninth largest number of claims at 393, but it registered the highest average cost per claim of the 10 states with the most claims: a staggering $56,654. The trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., which can result in injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses.
Dog Breeds Considered To Be Dangerous
The debate over which dog breeds are inherently dangerous, if any, and which are aggressively raised or neglected will likely continue for years to come. Regardless of your stance on what can attribute to a dog being more or less aggressive, the following breeds are commonly blacklisted by insurance companies according to Psychology Today. It is pointed out that most of the insurance companies not only black listed the specific breed, but any mixed breed that presumably included a genetic relationship to one of the banned breeds. The breeds are (in alphabetical order):
· Alaskan Malamutes
· Cane Corsos
· Chows chows
· Doberman Pinschers
· German Sheperds
· Great Danes
· Pit Bull Terriers
· Presa Canarios
· Siberian Huskies
· Staffordshire Terriers
Solutions for Dog Owners
So what can dog owners do if they own one of the aforementioned breeds? The good news is there are options. Speak with an independent insurance agent about your specific situation and they should be able to help point you in the right direction. An agent who works with multiple companies might be able to find an all-encompassing policy, or can mix and match different policies to make sure you’re covered appropriately.
There are other coverages you can consider in addition to your homeowners or renters policy. Ask your agent about umbrella insurance and canine liability insurance which should add additional coverage to your homeowners or solely cover your dog, respectively.
The American Kennel Club offers training for its Canine Good Citizen program. If your dog earns a CGC certificate, most insurance companies will accept this document and are more likely to write your homeowners or renters policy.
While the relationship with a domesticated animal can be a very fulfilling and rewarding one, it comes with its own risks. Knowing what you know now, it is our hope that you can rescue a dog if you’re capable and willing or, if you already own a dog, continue to nurture the relationship. If at any time you have any questions about homeowners, renters, umbrella, canine liability or any other insurance coverage that may be affected by adding a dog to your family, feel free to leave one in the comments section, email email@example.com or call 636.391.0700 where one of our representatives will be happy to assist you.