Don’t Let Fido Cost You Your Homeowners Policy

Dog bite claims have reached record levels, costing the U.S. insurance industry $479 million in 2011. Sadly, the majority of bites will be from the family dog or one belonging to a friend or neighbor.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that insurance carriers are cautious. Increasingly many insurance companies refuse to insure homeowners who own certain breeds, including Rottweiler’s, Pit Bulls, Chow Chows, and German Shepherds.

Although dog lovers lobby on behalf of these breeds, insurance underwriters may still refuse to write homeowner’s policies for owners whose pets are “blacklisted”.  So, what’s a dog lover to do?

This solution may help your insurance carrier provide you with homeowner’s coverage, pooch and all. The American Kennel Club sponsors a “Canine Good Citizen” designation, and local trainers throughout the U.S. offer classes to train your dog for the designation. The Canine Good Citizen dog must pass 10 temperament tests: He or she should allow a stranger to approach; demonstrate a lack of aggression to other dogs (very important since many people get bitten when their dogs tangle with others); and feel confident in a crowd.

For dogs who are already trained, evaluators are available throughout the U.S. to certify Fido as a good citizen. Some carriers don’t accept the designation, although a bite-free history may help, but generally having a Canine Good Citizen will assist you in obtaining or keeping your homeowner’s insurance.

If you love your dog (and who doesn’t?), the cost associated with training and evaluation is a small price to pay.