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HOMEOWNER POLICIES BANNING BREEDS

OAnother benefit of owning a Toy breed or other small dog is that we haven't (yet) been targeted by the insurance industry.

Owners of Akitas, Pit Bulls, Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans and Presa Canarios (the breed from the San Francisco manslaughter trial) are increasingly being forced to choose between keeping their dog and getting homeowner's insurance.

This is a form of dog racism that, to my knowledge, is illegal only in Pennsylvania.

The truth is that any dog can bite, especially if provoked. However, the epidemic of big dog bites is caused by people buying dogs for protection and then failing to socialize them.

Unfortunately, it is an epidemic. Since the 1990s, dog attacks have become the biggest single cause of home policy claims with claims running to more than $300 million a year.

As a result, more and more insurance companies are refusing to offer policies to owners of certain dog breeds or excluding dog bite liability from their policies. This also is true for renter's insurance.

Most homeowners and renters policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage for liability claims. However, anything over the policy limit is the homeowner's responsibility.

Some insurance companies do not automatically reject owners of certain breeds but may require letters from veterinarians, dog obedience certificates, or a home visit by an insurance agent. If a dog growls at the agent, it may be uninsurable or only at a high premium.

If you have a dog, even a Chihuahua, that bites someone, you probably will find that your dog is now uninsurable.

To help dog owners and lobby for legislation that forbids dog profiling, the American Kennel Club has established an Insurance Resource Center at its website. Here's the link:

Insurance Resource Center

The AKC has a matrix showing the restrictions the major insurance companies place on dog owners.

If your insurance company will not insure you because of your dog breed, check with your insurance agent, who may know of another company that will insure you. Don't be afraid to try another agent even for the same company. Some agents let their personal experiences or beliefs color their actions.

Some states such as Massachusetts offer insurance through state-run plans to homeowners who can't get or can't afford commercial policies.

If you're having a problem finding affordable insurance, contact breed clubs for recommendations (found at American Kennel Club (AKC) website) or your state insurance commissioners office. They can provide you with a list of insurers in your state and you may need to start down the list.

Steps that will make your insurer and you happy:

1. Train your dog and get the AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate.

2. Neuter male dogs.

3. Socialize your dog and make sure he gets plenty of exercise.

4. Restrain your dog on a leash or keep in a fenced yard when outside. Don't let your dog run after someone. The instinct to chase prey is one of the most frequent situations in which bites occur.

5. Teach your children how to behave around your dog. NEVER leave a small child and dog alone together.

As a last resort, consider buying a separate liability policy for your dog or a separate rider to your existing policy. Keep your checkbook handy if you have to go this route. <

Article written by:
Louise Louis
Reprinted with permission from the Bone-Mot Newsletter
www.toybreeds.com/Bone-Mot


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