As an independent insurance broker, I’ve seen breed restrictions across many different insurance carriers. As a dog lover and owner, I know the struggle. If you own an “ineligible breed,” you’ve probably had trouble finding a company to insure your home. Or, you’ve had to pay a higher premium to cover the cost of the risk associated with owning that breed. Or … you’ve lied.
Your options would seem to be either give up the dog, pay a significantly higher bill every month or risk taking on a $33,230 bill–the average dog claim cost in 2016–when your homeowners denies your dog bite claim because you lied about Fluffy on the policy. All of these options are stressful, and, frankly, the circumstances put you in a tight spot. Pit Bulls may have a bad reputation, but yours wears pajamas and tucks your kids into bed every night (complete with goodnight slobber kisses). Why are these companies out to get you?
It’s hard to imagine your adorable 8-week-old puppy biting a friend or neighbor one day–all he wants to do is eat, potty and sleep! But in reality your furbaby is, at the end of the day, a dog. And without proper training and care, even a Chihuahua can do serious damage.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, “Dog bites and other dog-related injuries generally account for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016, costing more than $600 million.” The number of dog bite claims in 2016 was 18,123–and that’s just bites.
This rising statistic could be correlated to the fact that more and more American families are bringing home fuzzy babies–in 2017, 60 million Americans own at least one dog–increasing the odds that some families will forego puppy school or any other kind of obedience training, leading to out-of-control pets. But whatever the reason, with these numbers on the rise, it’s no wonder insurance companies institute an “ineligible breed list” when it comes to your homeowners insurance. Insurance is mostly based on statistics, and for certain breeds, the stats aren’t pretty. However, putting the proper amount of time and care into training your dog in obedience and temperament can save you thousands down the road, in vet bills, lawsuits, insurance costs and new shoes (break that chewing habit!).
We had a specific case in our agency where our client had a Pit Bull and two young children. We quoted them a great bundled deal for their home, auto and umbrella with one of our best carriers. Everything looked great and they were ready to save a lot of money … and then there it was, the dog question. A Pit Bull in the home usually means an automatic decline for the company we quoted. Fortunately, their Pittie was a very well-trained, very sweet and gentle companion. Because the family took the time to humanely train their family pet, we were able to build a solid case for the underwriter to make an exception to the rule. And since we had to send proof of obedience training for underwriting review, while we were at it, we threw in some cute photos of the dog cuddling with his favorite humans: his baby brother and 2-year-old sister. And just like that, they were approved, Pit Bull and all.
Properly and humanely training your dog is a small time and financial investment in the beginning of the dog’s life (or new life) in the grand scheme of things. Even if you think you know how to train a dog on your own, you should still go through with the classes or even at-home training. There’s always something new to be learned at class, and the certificate you pay for will pay you back in spades.
*Statistics reflect the most recent findings from the Insurance Information Institute
Typical dog breed restrictions include: Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Chows, Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Presa Canarios, Doberman Pinschers, Wolf-Hybrids, Mastiffs, Cane Corsos, Great Danes, Siberian Huskies
Catherine DiGiacomo is an independent insurance broker at DiGiacomo & Associates Insurance, and a proud dog mom to Maizie and Cash. Catherine loves what she calls “financial matchmaking” because she feels good about helping people find the right insurance coverage to protect the things they love, for a price they can afford. Her father founded this family business in 1984, and she’s enjoyed watching it grow and contribute to the bolstering Phoenixville community since then. She is proud to be a part of a business that built its foundation on trust, education and integrity. For more information or a free insurance evaluation, call 610-935-8900 or visit www.digiacomoandassociates.com.