Homeowners Insurance and Dogs: Affects on Insurance Rates

Dogs have become an important part of the American family; considering that 63 percent of all households have at least one dog. Although dogs bring priceless memories and convenient protection, the costs of owning one are certainly no secret: food, veterinary bills, treats and even kennels. Dogs however, have a classic hidden cost to home owners though; they can affect the cost of a homeowners insurance policy.

There were approximately 4.7 million dog bites in 2005 accounting for roughly $317.2 million in insurance claims.

Dogs Add Liability Risks to Homeowners Insurance Policies

Just like adding a swimming pool to your homeowner's policy, owning a dog is a policy underwriting factor that insurance companies take very serious. Carriers aren't concerned that Fido will necessarily flood the house by chewing a garden hose or suddenly break every window in the house without cause, but rather that they will inevitably bite somebody. Simply put: dogs are liability risks to homeowners policies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were approximately 4.7 million dog bites in 2005 accounting for roughly $317.2 million in insurance claims. Who would know this more than the mail carrier? In 2004, the US Postal Service reported over 3,400 dog-related injuries - that's an average of 11 mail carrier injuries every day!

Homeowners Coverage and Dog Bites

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability, as long as your dog is disclosed to your insurance company. Insurers may charge more or even deny your application if you own specific types of dogs. These are determined by the frequency of dog bites for the breed, whether they are large dogs that can inflict a lot of damage, and the breed's general reputation. Some of the breeds that raise red flags for insurers are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Wolf Hybrids.

Update Your Homeowners Insurance

Adequately insuring a home with a dog is a common oversight by many homeowners. Some try to save money by omitting the information from the application, and others simply neglect to report the pet since they're already committed to an affordable policy. Don't be foolish, the only decision you can make is to disclose the dog to your homeowners insurance company since any claim will most likely be denied if you don't. Knowingly omitting relevant liabilities to your insurance company constitutes grounds for policy cancellation, which is certainly not in your financial interests.

You may find that adding a dog to your homeowners policy will have a negligible effect on your premium, however, if the opposite is true, it's time to shop around for new coverage. Homeowners insurance rates can vary by hundreds of dollars between carriers, as extra charges for dogs can also differ dramatically from company to company. Compare home insurance quotes at InsWeb and save.