Your dog is a faithful friend, a member of the family, loved and cherished by you all. But does your insurance company feel the same?
More and more insurers are restricting coverage for dogs. Some exclude particular breeds, others don’t exclude but offer limited coverage, others require proof of good behavior—both from the dog and from the owner.
So, what are the things you should know if you own or about to own a dog?
First, what is the breed of your dog? Many (although not all) insurance companies do exclude certain breeds. The most common include; Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Staffordshire Terriers, Boxers, Huskies, Malamutes, Wolf-Dog Hybrids. But there are others and you should always ask your agent to look into coverage or exclusion for your particular dog.
If your dog’s breed is acceptable to your insurer, do they have any special requirements if they are to provide cover? Some insurers require proof that your dog has completed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program or a similar course with a certified trainer. You may also be asked to prove that you can and do restrain your dog when in public and when visitors come to your property.
Is the provided coverage sufficient? Most personal liability coverage is limited to $500,000 but a dog-related incident, which may include medical bills, as well as pain and suffering liability, may well run into the hundreds of thousands. If this is a concern you may want to consider increasing your limits on homeowners and purchasing an umbrella policy, which can increase your coverage.
Finally, if your dog damages your property—destroys your favorite designer purse, chews on the leg of the antique table—you almost certainly will not be covered. But you may be covered if your beloved pet makes a feast of your friend’s leather jacket while they’re in your home. Again, it pays to ask ahead of time.
Whatever the breed, always tell your insurer or broker if you own a dog. If you don’t inform them and you make a claim, you may well be denied.