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Dogs and Homeowners Insurance

Dog Liability and Homeowners Insurance
Insurance companies have paid particular interest to dogs in recent years and have worked at field underwriting all Homeowners and Renter’s policies for dog exposures. Their main focus is to eliminate exposure to severe losses. In 2002, dog-bite claims cost insurers almost $350 million, and accounted for a full fourth (1/4) of all liability claims. The potential exposure is significant, so underwriters, looking to earn their keep, have come up with ways to reduce their exposure.


At a typical insurance company, information on all large losses where money has not been
subrogated, is gathered and periodically reviewed. Usually a committee of senior underwriters reviews what happened and then try to determine if the event was a truly unforeseen occurrence or was the loss something that they could have avoided by changing or enforcing current underwriting guidelines. From this work they have produced the policies that apply to dogs.
Since a significant percentage of the population owns dogs, insurance companies have choices to make on how to cover dogs. Some of their options:
1. Exclude dogs from coverage. With this option they risk alienating dog owners who don’t have aggressive animals and take their chances that a sharp penciled plaintiff attorney won’t pick the exclusion apart in court.
2. Price policies taking all breeds types into account. Look at all dog bite cases and charge everyone enough to pay for the large losses. The insurance companies that choose this are at a disadvantage for two reasons: (1) they will be priced higher than their competition that restricts dogs and (2) people with dangerous dogs will seek coverage growing their risk exposure, not spreading it out (called adverse selection in insurance terms).
3. Write an endorsement and charge dog owners more money for dog coverage. Again, you’ll get adverse selection with dangerous breeds flocking to you. You’ll also alienate owners of less aggressive dogs who can go elsewhere for less money.
4. Identify which dogs account for the majority of bites. Then expand underwriting rules to eliminate these exposures by making them ineligible for coverage. No policy, no exposure. This option means less business and fewer premium dollars, but fewer large losses. It also does not alienate dog owners with less aggressive breeds.
The only company I’ve seen that offers option one (1) is Foremost Insurance , a standard market company out of Michigan that offers policies to higher risk properties.

A few companies have not restricted dog breeds; Farmers Insurance and State Farm only restrict dogs with a bite history. As you can probably guess, most preferred-market companies have opted for option 4, so I’ll touch on their restricted dogs list.

UNACCEPTABLE DOGS:
Several states have tried to restrict an insurer’s ability to underwrite dog exposures by trying to outlaw breed discrimination. With opposition from insurance company lobbyists these bills have gone nowhere.
The lists vary by insurance company but most have listed the following breed of dogs as unacceptable:
Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers, or any mix of these breeds.
These are just a few of the breeds that are more susceptible to aggressive behavior and it does not mean these are the only breeds insurers are concerned with. There are some carriers that have a more extensive list of unacceptable breeds. Breeds that appear on these lists include:
Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow, German Shepard, Presa Canario, Husky, Staffordshire Terrier and wolf hybrids to name a few.
Insurers reserve the right to decline coverage based on the overall exposure, or where they have inadequate information.
A challenge in underwriting dog exposures is that ANY dog, regardless of breed, has the capability to cause severe injury to others. Just like people, animal behavior can be a product of their environment. In addition, much depends on the lineage, how the dog was bred and how they have been treated or trained. The presence of other dogs on the premises can also have an impact on their demeanor.
The fact that insurance reports (CLUE) do not reflect a claim or that an applicant has had coverage with another carrier while owning the dog does not mean the exposure is acceptable. Keep in mind that some carriers have addressed the issue by excluding any animal liability.
There is a misconception by some that the first dog bite is “free”, meaning the exposure to loss is less. This is a fallacy. In many jurisdictions, strict liability prevails for a dog bite, particularly in those situations where it can be proven the animal is inherently unstable, the insured has had the dog trained to be aggressive or where the dog has attacked with no provocation. These factors illustrate why insurers underwrite each and every dog a homeowner or renter has. Exceptions and exclusions are not an option.


WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ASKED?
To properly determine the acceptability of a dog exposure, your insurer will ask questions to develop specific information through inquiry and inspection of your premises:
1. What breed is the dog? A mutt or mixed breed is not an acceptable answer. They need to know the specific breed to properly assess the exposure. If you can’t determine this, then they would want to review a photo of the dog before coverage is bound or even request a statement from their veterinarian on the mix.
2. How long has the Insured owned the dog? It would be appropriate to find out if you’
ve owned the dog since it was a pup. If you got it as an adult, where did you obtain it? What was the reason the prior owners gave it up? Was it because of aggression?
3. What is the dog’s demeanor? Is it good with children? Has it shown aggressive tendencies? If there is any indication of inherent aggressiveness, or does not tolerate children well, insurers are not interested in taking a chance.
4. What is the dog’s history (has it attacked before)? If so, insurers will not write the exposure – period.
5. Has the dog been to obedience school? You need to differentiate obedience vs. training for other purposes, i.e. being a guard dog.
6. Where is the dog kept? Is it fenced, chained, or in the home? Is the dog left unattended for long periods, i.e. when the owners are working?
7. What type of fence or enclosure is used, if applicable? Is it in good shape? How tall is the fence? Is there a pen? For any of these, what’s the likelihood of escape?
8. What are the local ordinances involving keeping the dog? This is especially important if kept outdoors.
9. Does the insured live in a metropolitan or rural area? What is the proximity to small children?
If you are unsure on whether or not a dog exposure is acceptable once you’ve asked pertinent questions, I’d encourage you to call your agent to discuss.

BEWARE OF DOG SIGNS:
If a sign is posted on the property this should send up red flags for a potential liability hazard, even if the insured does not currently own a dog. Perhaps you “dog sit” for a friend or a relative which is still a liability exposure for the insured.
If you do not own a dog but are using it as a theft deterrent you should remove the sign. You would be advertising for a potential loss if you have someone visiting with a dog since both parties can be held liable.

Landlords and Dogs
A landlord who allows a tenant to have a dog on the premises can and has been held liable.
There, it’s been said, you’
ve been warned. When interviewing tenants you need to ask what breed of dog they have. If their eyes roll up and to the right, they’re looking for a creative answer because they don’t want to tell you pit-bull. Sometimes they’ll tell you a boxer mix or sporting dog – yeah mixed with pit-bull and the sport is dog fighting (been there - done that). Insist on seeing the dog. Approach the dog, is he hostile or aggressive? If yes, find different tenants. On my leases, I write an addendum for animals, that way I can revoke the animal privilege without rewriting the lease.
SUMMARY:
Insurers will never stop underwriting dogs when writing homeowner policies. Dogs are a liability hazard for insurance companies, and the risk associated with insuring their owners is too great to overlook. Addressing an unacceptable exposure after a loss occurs is too late. Take the time to identify your own exposure. By doing so, you help protect yourself and lessen the risk of lawsuits and insurance issues.

51 Comments on Dogs and Homeowners Insurance

arizona auto insurance ... 1

Yes, all home insurance carriers that I represent ask about dogs. I had a prospect ask about insuring her home about a year ago. I declined because she bought a rottweiler. A couple months later she had a dog bite claim with her other insurer.

Posted date January 25th, 2008 at 6:58 pm
Ernesto ... 2

Better their book of business than yours.

I remember one district underwriting rep tell me I should get ‘agressive’ with dogs to check their temperment. Yeah whatever.

Posted date February 1st, 2008 at 7:33 pm
Arizona Home Owner Insurance ... 3

I left a captive company and opened my own agency. One client wanted to come with me but I had to decline when I found out they had just bought a Pit Bull. They were a little incensed and not happy with me. A month later I heard their new dog bit their child and they had to get rid of it. There is a reason these breeds are on a list.

Posted date February 6th, 2008 at 5:30 pm
Ernesto ... 4

Not sure where you got “most popular on the planet”? I can’t find a reference that shows pit bulls being in the top ten anywhere.

You’re correct it is a number game. And insurance actuaries have the numbers to prove pit bulls are more prone to bitting and doing damage. It’s possible minature yorkshire terriers bite more oftern than pit-bulls, but the yorkie is not going to rip your arm off.

I can’t help but feel pit-bull owners live in their own little world.

Posted date March 7th, 2008 at 10:14 am
Aileen Scott ... 5

Does anyone know if livestock guarding dogs are on the list of breeds insurance companies will not insure?

Posted date January 6th, 2009 at 10:18 am
Ernesto ... 6

I’ve never seen herding dogs on any lists of restricted animals.

Also, if you have a working ranch with more than a few animals (or acres) you’re probably not getting homeowners insurance, you should be into some type of farm coverage.

Posted date January 6th, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Ivan ... 7

[Deleted comments .. no name calling!!] , the dogs are not to blame, but irresponsible owners that don’t keep them on leashes and such,any dog will bite if you invade his space, I got a pitbull because I got sick of people stealing stuff from my yard. I got the pitbull and nothing ever goes missing, I wonder why?. Get in my yard without permission and I believe you should get bitten, and insurance companies should not punish us for protecting our home.

Posted date June 10th, 2009 at 4:41 pm
don ... 8

A German Sheperd is a “herding dog” and they are on the list. Just fyi.

Posted date July 24th, 2009 at 1:58 pm
Jessica ... 9

If the dog breeds on that list are all bad then maybe they should get rid of them all. Oh no wait, maybe because that they are not all bad and all breeds of dogs can bit, and it’s in their nature to do so, if not properly trained. Why do they have to pick on some but not others. I believe it should be on a case by case, if the dog is properly trained, taken care of, have good conditions at home then the company should have to insure them. I know so stupid kids that are aggressive and mean on our block and Im sure their parents have insurance. What a bunch of crap.

Posted date December 15th, 2009 at 11:05 pm
Casey ... 10

WOW, its amazing how misinformed some people can be. It is not cost effective to check and see which owners are good and which owners are bad. You have to make broad restrictions in order write business cheaply. You dont even have to look at the dog bite statistics; just the fact that insurance companies won’t write the business should tell you something. If it were cost effective to write pit-bulls, there would be a bigger market for it, that is how business works in a free market. Long story short, ALL companies will soon stop writing anyone with a pit-bull, regardless of how good of an owner you happen to be.

Posted date March 11th, 2010 at 3:18 pm
Sarah ... 11

I have no problems with dog breed restrictions, in theory. However, the dog bite statistics are often based on misleading data, which I feel often means that the wrong dogs are being discriminated against.

Most of the studies are based on dog bites requiring hospitalization. Fair enough. Except that includes everyone ever bitten by a trained police or protection dog - of course German Shepherds are high up on the list.

Also, many of the northern pulling breeds (Huskies, Malamutes, Akitas) are on the list. This doesn’t take into account that, according to one report, the majority of these bites take place among dogs who are kept in large dog sled packs in the north. These are not your average household dog, but specialized dogs being kept by experienced dog sled drivers in remote locations.

I just think that it’s hard to restict by breed unless we have useful statistics on what household pets are biting our neighbors.

Posted date March 22nd, 2010 at 5:26 pm
Jess ... 12

Some insurance companies DO actually consider the owner and can determine if they will write the policy or not. I personally own huskies, but because I am a certified dog trainer, I crate my dogs, they have good references from day care and vets, and I have no small children, I was able to be insured without issue or penalty.

I think the real issue with the breeds on this list is that there is no control on who can own them. We need to start encouraging local and state governments to consider requiring people to get some kind of specialized training and certification, or proof of responsible ownership and experience, if they want to own and breed a dog that is on this list. My neighborhood is mostly renters, and many people who are irresponsible owners have pitbulls. And these are the people breeding more and more of them and filling up the shelters.

Posted date May 1st, 2010 at 10:58 am
Turkey ... 13

Notice the pit bull supporters resort to name calling to try and get their point across while the rest of us with facts don’t need to go there. I love Jess’ suggestions because it will crack down on poor ownership and overpopulation which kills these dogs by the thousands weekly. But pit bull supporters are opposed to any law that singles pits out, regardless of how helpful it may be. The data is not misleading - pit bulls cause the most human deaths, the most severe attacks, and its common for them to lead the overall bite count now as well. Pit bulls usually make up the bulk of shelter residents and the reasons for calls to Animal Control. Most dog bites are not a medical emergency, which is why we don’t here the media reporting how many occur each day, and that goes for pit bulls as well. So don’t be fooled Chris, there might just be hundreds a day, even though pits are not popular and make up only 3-5% of the pet population. As long as there are people like Ivan who keep human aggressive pit bulls and don’t know the dogs are not supposed to make good guard dogs, this will be an insurance issue. Pit bulls are also genetically dog aggressive unlike most other breeds, which can also lead to claims. It is not fait for all of to pay higher insurance because someone wants an aggressive dog - let them pay for it in the same way someone would pay more for an expensive sports car.

Posted date May 20th, 2010 at 3:50 pm
Dawn ... 14

Live stock guardians are NOTHING like herding dogs. I have heard of Kuvosz and Antatolian Shepherds on the list before. Caucasian Ovtcharkas SHOULD BE on the list but they are probably still rare.

Posted date May 20th, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Steve Hackett ... 15

How do you notify an insurer that your neighbor just bought a pit bull?
I’m hoping to get their homeowners company to pressure them to get rid of it.
I have grandkids here.Is there any way to get the name of someone else’s homeowners company?

Posted date June 4th, 2010 at 12:35 pm
Ashley ... 16

Steve,

You cannot do that- you do not know the dog. I am tired of how people freak out if they see a specific dog breed walking down the street well mannered with its owner. I have two ‘dangerous breeds’ in the house and they are the best animals that I would ever have. They absolutely love people and even will not growl or snap if you take their food bowl or come up to them. It is all up to the owner to “develop and raise” the animal correctly.
I have met some pit-bulls and they may appear scary but they are so lovable.

Yes- it is important to keep the dog secure on your property and do not ever let it loose unless you’re taking it out yourself with a leash.

Posted date July 16th, 2010 at 7:12 am
Linda Ward ... 17

My neighbor’s pit bull dug under our shared fence, killed my dog and then kept me from entering the backyard until police arrived. Is this dog owner liable?

Posted date August 19th, 2010 at 12:02 pm
Ernesto ... 18

Linda,

You could consult an attorney in your state. Most of the time the law will spell out damage to animals. It usually is treated differently from bodily injury to people or property damage to personnel property. Good luck, if you want to write about your experience, let me know I’ll be happy to post it.

Posted date August 22nd, 2010 at 8:47 pm
iglablues ... 19

My landlord has had to rewrite his insurance policy and they are not insuring him because of our dog’s breed. She looks like a Staffordshire mix. We face possible eviction as a result despite the fact that we have lived here for 3 years sans incident, have a fixed female that we’ve owned since she was 10 weeks old, have never had issues with aggression or biting, have had her obedience-trained, etc. etc. etc. In short she’s a good dog, and we’re expecting our first child soon and have no worries or qualms about her interacting with the child. But sure, she’s on a dangerous breed list. She’s actually been attacked by dogs some of you would romanticize over (the noble Labrador, for example), but she’s the dangerous one. /sarcasm

The problem is the idea that you can use such a wide brush to paint a picture of a breed. I found this site looking for resources to aid me in fighting a discrimination situation. It makes me sad to see this kind of bias. I feel like people who can summarily make these kinds of generalizations don’t tend to be capable of seeing anything other than black and white anyway. It’s a shame, really.

Posted date February 26th, 2011 at 10:13 am
Nelle Shamo ... 20

The negative pit bull reputation is a product of the media circus and all who buy into that. My cousin’s daughter was bitten in the face by a gentle family lab she grew up with. Fourteen stitches later, the incident was not reported, the lab got off scott free from being added to any weighted “dangerous dog” list, and the myths go on. The problem is not the breed, it’s that it’s a dog first of all, and that the owner–smart or not–lacks common sense about all dogs, any dog. The most recent serious dog bite reported here locally was also a lab. The gentlest dog I ever knew was a pit bull. Positive stories about them abound, but that’s not the news an already-prejudiced person looks for. Read about how hard it is to teach a pit bull to bite. They bite less frequently than other breeds, but some bite harder. But the fact is, they have to be taught–by owners who are hateful, ignorant, and abusive AS WELL AS by owners who are lax, permissive, and negligent. I only support businesses that know what they’re talking about and who use real facts and not easily found padded ones.

Posted date May 6th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
Nelle Shamo ... 21

To Turkey…
“The data is not misleading - pit bulls cause the most human deaths, the most severe attacks, and its common for them to lead the overall bite count now as well.” Though this statement comes directly from a pit terror site, it is indeed misleading, because it’s not true. In state statistics of say 24 breeds, pits fall into about 12th position. You must be very young that you don’t remember when pit bulls were the “nanny dog” because of their love and gentleness toward children. Pick up any reputable dog book and find the same information. Find real statistics, if you really care to talk about this, but you’d have to be prepared to become a convert. Not many people are willing to change their mind, even when new information presents itself (as we publicly witnessed in our own past president about another subject). All I’m saying is to get off the Internet and find the truth. Of the two “gentle family” labs I know who mauled the children they knew, one was not reported at all, and one was reported as a pit bull. Add that to your data!

Posted date May 6th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
Tracy ... 22

PLEASE tell me my homeowner’s insurance WOULD NOT cover a dog claim that happened off our property. Woman is filing for mental anguish because she was jumped up on by my GSD 2 years ago. It was across the street & down one house from mine. Her lawyer sent me interrogatories requiring me to provide my insurance policy information for that time. Do I legally HAVE to give her attorney my insurance information? I have filed papers contesting her claim, and am willing to take personal responsibility for any costs. She’s suing 2 other people, our town animal control officer and selectmen. She’s a little fruit loops, but as she is suing in Superior Court, I’m taking it seriously.
Does any one know if I legally have to give them my policy information?

Posted date August 3rd, 2011 at 9:51 pm
Ernesto ... 23

There’s a good chance your policy would cover liability off the property. Read your policy. If it was me, I’d inform my company about what is happening but I’d decline giving the other person’s attorney any policy information; tell them coverage information is confidential between you and your company unless a judge requires you to submit. Also take steps to insure your dog stays in your yard under control. Good luck!

Posted date August 4th, 2011 at 11:02 am
Marilyn R ... 24

Seems to me it is the pet owners that are the problem, not the animals (sarcastic). If you don’t know how to PROPERLY take care of a dog you shouldn’t have one. It isn’t just a matter of feeding and walking them. You have to know how to properly socialize your pet so they are comfortable in any environment and not a threat to anyone.

Posted date August 21st, 2011 at 10:41 am
nicole ... 25

All this talk about pit bulls being the problem is ridiculous. I have 7 dogs total 2 being rescued pitties. They all get along with each other ( even with our tiniest 5lb Chihuahua,)and are definitely not people aggressive. Every generation has its breed that everyone is terrified of. 100 years ago it was the bloodhound. Only back then the media at least reported why the dog may have attacked. As years went on the media started to leave out these important details. Today a pitbull that has attacked is reported as the family dog. Now if you consider a family dog being chained outside, emaciated, and has no socialization, you are wrong! It’s pit bull popuratzi. And 1 attack gets reported all over the world. Where as when a case with a golden retriever destroyed someone’s face only a couple local news papers cover it. I’m not in denial. I work around dogs for a living and study their psychology. You people that think pitfalls are so bad, you are the ones who need to do your research.

Posted date August 23rd, 2011 at 6:03 pm
JC ... 26

My younger sister owns a Chiwawa which is not on the banded list, but her dog had bit a few people with broken skin(a friend came to the party, and my newphew, etc.) Luckily, nobody filed a claim against her insurance. I hate that freaking dog so much. She barks so much on everybody even on my sister. This breed should be on the banded list.Go figure!!!

Posted date August 25th, 2011 at 8:52 pm
Thomas Williams ... 27

It is totally ridiculous to blame the breed,and not consider how it is trained, socalized, cared for, etc.

Many, probably most,so called ‘pit bull’ bites are not from pure bred pit bull terriers. They are from mixed breeds mistaken by people who do not know breeds. Stupid people include dogs as ‘pit breeds’ that have never been involved in the cruel sport of dog fighting; an example is the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Stupid is often incurable.

Posted date October 24th, 2011 at 1:47 pm
Jim ... 28

Don’t blame the insurance companies, blame our judicial system. Person breaks into your house - gets his/her face chewed off by your dog - then turns around and sues you for injuries!? That’s messed up! Until that changes, the ones (insurers) paying the claims should have every right to decide what is and what is not an acceptable risk!

Posted date October 26th, 2011 at 9:35 am
Stephen ... 29

I wish the insurance companies would not be lazy and rely on assumptions. It is their job to insure. Every dog should be seen as a potential threat or insurable dog and should be evaluated. I have dealt with several insurance companies that resort to a picture if the breed is not known. Seriously? A picture and your opinion is what dictates whether or not someones house can be insured? People have been bit by labs before. Luckily I don’t sue for stupid stuff, and I know that when dealing with a dog, you can’t always predict a reaction. If you want to avoid having to pay out, which is what your main purpose is, then hire a trained professional to go evaluate EVERY DOG, without regard of breed. If the dog is aggressive, don’t insure it. If its not, do. If you don’t want to pay out for dog bites then state in your documents that you do not pay out for dog bites. But stop using breeds as an out. Besides, if someone breaks into my house without my permission, I wouldn’t sweat the dog too much - I’m going to attack them myself. If the plumber stops by while i’m away, no need to worry. My dog will be well trained, and secured in his house.

Posted date May 3rd, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Juanita ... 30

Facts are facts. The CDC lists Pit Bulls as 1st in causing bodily harm, maimings, and death. I have worked as a nurse in the ED and see what these dogs can do. If ignorant people want to own this breed–they should not expect insurance companies to underwrite them without heafty premiums or even at all. Your denial comes at the high cost of childrens faces, arms, legs and lives.

Posted date August 24th, 2012 at 4:34 am
Ellen ... 31

You’re right–ignorant people shouldn’t own this breed, or ANY breed. Facts are only facts when they’re really true. The only dogs I personally know who bit children in the face were a golden retriever and a black lab. But because the “facts” don’t call them dangerous, they didn’t get put down or even fined. Yet many dog professionals find these dogs unpredictable. I own a pit bull at a boarding school because the headmaster is dog savvy and knows they are the best dogs with children. They always have been, until ignorant people used these smart, gentle, people-pleasing dogs for sick entertainment. Have you read how dog-fighting people have to abuse, torture, and starve a dog for some length of time to make him protectively and submissively aggressive? Have you seen pictures? Have you read how the dogs that are not abused into protective meanness are used as bait dogs because they are so submissive and willing to please? Have you seen pictures? ANY dog on earth can be tortured into being mean. Any person on earth could be, as well. These are the facts. And another fact is, my pittie is like any other dog who is loved and raised right–totally the love of the school. Her real breed reputation and temperament make her the best possible dog with the children I work with. I wouldn’t trust any other. Fear and lack of education creates false “facts” and also perpetuates them. I’m sorry you believe that you know this “fact.” But facts are only facts when they’re really true. I suggest you do some research.

Posted date September 4th, 2012 at 11:15 pm
Eva ... 32

Juanita,
I can’t find anything on the CDC site that says that. I suppose you also know that it’s a fact there are over two dozen breeds that look like and are always mistaken for pit bulls. This happens because people so much like and want to blame something simple. Heaven forbid that you consider every breed dangerous in the wrong hands. Heaven forbid that you believe that people are to blame—people are the ones who train dogs abusively, who don’t train them at all, or who simply allow dogs to become spoiled and unpredictable and dominant out of people laziness, apathy, and/or stupidity. Dogs should be insured against ignorant people.

Posted date September 4th, 2012 at 11:35 pm
Juanita ... 33

Guns don’t kill people…people do, right? Perhaps Ellen and Eva should do their homework and look at the stats of Pit Bull type breeds. Because you know of a Poodle who bit someone doesn’t mean your one “case study” can be extrapolated. The numbers of serious injuries from Pit types are well documentented in the US and they have been BANNED from the UK. Please don’t come to me with your Pitt Bull apologist stories when I have seen the damage to human tissue and lives these dogs can do.

Posted date September 5th, 2012 at 10:07 am
Ellen ... 34

No, as a behaviorist, I would never apologize for a pit bull, but I’ve apologized for many an ignorant owner. And now I apologize for the story you are spreading, since it will cause innocent dogs to be killed. Yes, the UK is a great extremist example where intelligence has not yet filtered in–the ban being controlled by one or two people in power positions who can’t be touched. As a nurse, it might (or might not) interest you that genetic tests don’t mean a thing there. If a dog remotely resembles a pit bull–but isn’t one–it is euthanized anyway. I think you’d be happier there.

Posted date September 5th, 2012 at 9:45 pm
Juanita ... 35

Ellen, I have two dogs and I have trained 4 in obedience and have won competitions–so I guess I am a “behaviorist” as well as a nurse, correct? I have seen the damage inflicted by these dogs…and why do you think insurance companies do not want to cover homeowners of these dogs? Are they just being mean? Please. They would happily take anyones money as they are for profit. Guess it’s a huge lose of profit to insure Pitt Type owners. Ellen, too bad you put your feelings for a type of dog over the value of human life and safety.

Posted date September 6th, 2012 at 3:14 am
Ellen ... 36

I don’t know anyone who has trouble with insurance for pit bulls. This site is unusual as you get the problem companies and problem people. It’s not the rule in real life. If you were a behaviorist, you’d know something about dogs and people who shouldn’t have them. I value all life, people and animals. I also value all dog breeds. If you had read anything I said, anything, it’s the people who ruin their dogs–all breeds–who should not be insured. I don’t discriminate against people or animals based on the lies of people who don’t know any better. That’s where discrimination begins–and you are discriminating.

Posted date September 6th, 2012 at 8:13 pm
Scott ... 37

Seems like every news story I see after a severe Pit Bull attack has the owner saying, “I don’t know what happened. The dog was always kind, loving, and never done anything like that before..” I think that is one of the main issues with the breed. A dog can be fine for years without incident, and then something sets them off fro some reason…a funny hat they don’t like, someone startling them from behind, a child viewed as a threat, etc. Unpredictable. Statitics may not be perfect, but you could remove 75% of the pit bite claims and they would still be at the top of the list of attacks. Just look at how dispropotionate the numbers are for Pits compared to other dogs.. http://allenandabaray.com/dog-bite-injury-data

Posted date October 15th, 2012 at 8:07 pm
Juanita ... 38

Agreed, Scott. Thank you for your post.

Posted date October 21st, 2012 at 11:31 pm
Angela ... 39

Last week, an employee of mine put down a “vicious” dachshund who had bitten three children unexpectedly. Did this make the news? Of course not. Five years ago, my cousin’s daughter was bitten viciously on the face (14 stitches) by a nice family yellow lab whom she grew up with. Did this make the news? Of course not. The dog is alive and well and living at his home. Considering that over two or three dozen breeds are mistakenly identified and/or sold as “pit bulls” (including many labs), all I can say is “Seriously?” GET THE DOG IN QUESTION GENETICALLY TESTED if you want to sound intelligent. Thank God for the insurance companies who have sense enough to think for themselves and judge a dog by his temperament and not by hearsay or random “statistics.” It must go without saying that since heterosexual men are at the top of the list of those who sexually abuse young girls, I heterosexual men should not be insurable. You roll your eyes, but that’s the line of thinking you are employing. I contacted three insurance companies for my pit-bull look-alike dog (who is not at all a pitbull even back to her grandparents), and all said they insured every breed unless they had a known “incident.” They all laughed when I told them what I had read here. I’m so sick of hearing the negative press. There is no breed anymore that is inherently mean unless the owner allows it or teaches it. Exactly the same as with parenting and children who become mean and disrespectful. No child or animal is born that way.

Posted date October 22nd, 2012 at 2:48 am
Robert Sr. ... 40

Statistics created for and advertised on a site for Personal Injury Lawyers are playing you for your business. Scaring you for your business. Pushing your buttons. They KNOW they just have to say the “PB” word, and they have your attention and your money. Get serious, Scott. I worked for a firm in my younger days, and they could have written your favorite tabloid newspaper.

Posted date October 22nd, 2012 at 3:00 am
Scott ... 41

That was just the first website that came up. I would agree if it were their statistics, but they are just posting information from a separate study.

And talking about one dachshund, or whatever hearsay does not prove or disprove anything. That’s like saying my mom and another person I know of personally survived breast cancer, so the statistics of a 30% survival rate are bogus and suspect.

Posted date October 22nd, 2012 at 8:47 am
Robert Sr. ... 42

Actually, they’re not posting from a study at all, if they’re anything like the firm I knew. You are totally correct that my one dachshund and my one golden lab are not going to put them on the top of the list. What I’m saying is that they probably aren’t even on the list, but they are dogs, and poorly trained and owned dogs, no matter the breed, are unpredictable. Any animal, farm or house pet, poorly trained and owned is unpredictable. But at least I’m talking from experience and not someone else’s so-called “statistics.” If you buy into the negative sites, look for many, many more positive sites–if you dare. Since I got my pit look-alike, I have had someone everywhere I go ask if she’s a pitbull and go on and on about all the wonderful pitbulls they’ve owned all their lives. You wouldn’t believe it unless you were with me. The nanny dog is not named that for no good reason. And why do you think dog-fighting rings use pitbulls as bait dogs? Because they are about the only breed that will take being attacked and having their faces eaten off and not fight back.

Posted date October 22nd, 2012 at 7:30 pm
Robert Sr. ... 43

I guarantee that if you own a pitbull yourself, you will have an epiphany. A sensational site like this wouldn’t have to exist. There would be no more lumping and hyping and stereotyping and jumping on the bandwagon with no personal experience to speak of. If all the dogs that people condemn were genetically tested, I also believe with all my animal-loving heart that a minute percentage would test pitbull. Looks don’t do it. Just like racial profiling doesn’t do it.

Posted date October 22nd, 2012 at 7:37 pm
Yakker ... 44

Found this site bouncing around the ‘net. We own a WalkerHound/ Boxer mix. Was talking to our vet one day and asked if stories I had heard about pit bulls was true (temperment).

What he said surprised me. He said there is NO breed known as a pit bull. This just a term that deveooed down though the years. He said they are either Staffordshire Bull Terriors or American Bull Terriors.

I am therfore going to have to assume the “pit” comes from the fighting arrangment; that the must have been dome sort of pit that wss used in fighting or training them to fight.

Posted date October 23rd, 2012 at 12:16 am
Lucke ... 45

I see that most this conversation has focused on pit bulls. I am curious if anyone can offer information on Akita’s? I own an Akita and have been turned down by many insurance companies (even though I work in the insurance industry). I have only done minimal research thus far on the history of Akita’s biting, but our Akita is extremely gentle with all humans (even around her food), because we have had her thoroughly trained. She is however dog aggressive (not to our other pets, but dogs she doesn’t know). Does anyone else know more about this breed’s aggressive history?

Posted date October 31st, 2012 at 10:47 am
Robert Sr. ... 46

Hi Lucke,
That’s because pit bulls are the dog du jour. If you research Akitas and start finding dogs who have bitten someone, whether or not they are really Akitas (could just look like one), they may be the next dog at the top of the uninformed lists–just like the string of breeds before pitties. Enjoy your well-trained Akita, and speak out against people who train or allow their dogs (of all breeds) to think biting is okay. And teach parents you associate with to keep their children from sticking their face into a “cute” dog’s face. How many people do you know who would like a stranger sticking his face right into theirs? Yet we expect dogs to like it.

Posted date October 31st, 2012 at 6:10 pm
ron ... 47

I am a disabled veteran and have a service dog. She is a German Shepherd. Would like to see an insurance company deny me (Or any other disbaled person)coverage because we have a SERVICE DOG. Wonder of they have heard of the ADA (AMericans with Disability Act).

Posted date November 11th, 2012 at 11:09 pm
BobbieJean ... 48

It totally depends on where you live and whether someone has scared legislators into breed-specific laws against your dog’s breed. It may not matter if it’s a service dog. BSL makes no exceptions. A dog in Ireland? Proven NOT to be a pit bull but sort of “looked” like one if you crossed your eyes and squinted. Family lived where pit bulls are banned. Taken from his little deaf girl, caged with no visits for three years, put down when cage stress was used as an excuse for “unsafe.” People who want to hate a breed will do whatever it takes to get rid of it, not based on the individual dog but as a group of lookalikes. Shepherds are feared in places too. My advice in all cases of dogs is: “Be careful of people!”

Posted date November 13th, 2012 at 4:14 am
T. Michael ... 49

I have a lot of personal experience with training which is simply behavior modification. I’ve worked with a few dogs that should have been “put down” because they had been mistreated or “trained” to be aggressive. In these cases I doubt anyone could honestly predict their future behavior. Another huge problem which usually goes unrecognized is isolation. Isolation with out some type of meaningful stimulation will make any mammal mentally unbalanced. These are people problems, a simple cause and effect condition brought about by a dogs irresponsible owner, not the mental instability of an individual dog or a breed. Even dogs that have a history of bitting, typically only require training to get turned around. I have never found a rotty, german shepard, pitbull, doberman or any other large breed to be naturally aggressive. When socialized with a family and the occasional visitor, large breeds make wonderful pets. Protective, overly exuberant and excessively playful to the point of hurting someone, yes, which is why all large breeds need to be trained by a competent individual.

Unfortunately, insurance companies simply do business based on statistics. They don’t need to hire an animal behaviorist to tell them a husky will do more damage than a pug if it bites someone. There also appears to be some correlation between the popularity of a breed and making the insurance industry’s bad dog list. I recall a time when dalmatians were the number one biters and their popularity was also close to number one thanks in large part to Mr. Disney.

Posted date June 7th, 2013 at 6:55 pm
Ernesto ... 50

I would lump your comment under the “Thank you Captain Obvious” category. No doubt how a dog acts is based on his treatment and training. But it does not offer a solution to the “bad” owners of the world. Are the good dog owners going to band together, grow a backbone and DO something about bad owners? Or are the insurance companies going to just keep writing checks when dogs bite people? Also, if my Pomeranian goes buzzerk and starts biting people, the worst you’ll get is a nasty nip on the heels.

So, lots of obvious points, no ideas for a solution. In the meantime, any insurance company with half a brain will ban pit bulls.

Posted date June 9th, 2013 at 3:55 pm
Amy ... 51

I don’t think I have laughed so hard in my life. This is such a joke. No breed is “inherently aggressive”. There is no science or biology to prove that. I think the “bully breed” fad is played out. I have never read so many poorly written, false, misinformed comments.

Posted date January 27th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

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