December 15, 2015

Is your dog covered for liability by your homeowners or renters insurance policy?

Notice I said generally.

Dog bite claims are a significant financial burden for the insurance industry, by some estimates counting for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims.  Some homeowners and renters insurance policies specifically exclude liability coverage for breeds deemed by insurance companies to have a high risk of aggression and biting, including but not limited to Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, and Rottweilers.

If your dog is excluded from liability coverage on your current insurance policy, no liability coverage is provided in the event your dog is involved in a bite, attack, or similar incident.  You will be responsible for all financial repercussions, including defense costs and any damages in the event you are sued. 

Sid and Lexi

Moreover, if you are applying for a new homeowners or renters insurance policy, the insurance company may refuse to insure you if you have a dog on their list of excluded breeds.  Another good reason (among many!) to never to let your current policy expire without first having new replacement coverage active.

I advise my clients to check their homeowners and renters insurance policies for dog breed restrictions, and to periodically do so during the time they have dogs and to absolutely do so before bringing a new dog into the family.  And you can always shop around for different coverage, or an insurance rider that provides liability coverage for your breed.

Fostering a dog for a non-profit animal rescue group?

Also, if you volunteer to foster a rescued dog for a non-profit animal rescue group, before taking possession of the dog, ask the group if they have a liability insurance policy in place that extends coverage to the fostered dog on your property.  If they say yes, ask to see a copy of the policy (the entire policy, not just a certificate of coverage) to ascertain the dog's breed is covered.  If no liability coverage is in place, or if the breed is excluded from such coverage, you bear the burden of liability.

Please contact me if you have questions about homeowners or renters insurance coverage.  For information about my Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

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