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Home Insurance for Dog Owners

With roughly six million household dogs in in Canada someone suffers from a bite roughly every minute. Granted we love our pets and a majority of them would never bite anyone but accidents do happen. When they do we as dog owners in Alberta are held responsible for the injuries incurred by our pets on another animal or person. As a result victims from dog attacks can pursue us with legal action for compensation of medical costs destruction of property – since dogs are considered ‘property’ of their owners – or loss of income as a result of injury.

What does this have to do with home insurance? Dog owners may be relieved to know that there may be liability insurance coverage for them in the event a dog bite or attack happens. But not always! Some home insurers specifically include certain dog breeds and dog bite coverage. We’ll review what dog breeds are considered to be more dangerous how you can reduce your liability risk and how to ensure you won’t be paying out of pocket for a lawsuit related to a dog attack.

Home Insurance and Dogs

If you have a dog more likely than not your insurer will request to know the breed history size and behaviour of your pet. Why? Some insurance companies have blacklisted a number of dog breeds that are perceived as ‘dangerous.’ Here are eleven dog breeds that are most commonly blacklisted by home insurance providers:

  • Pit-bulls and Staffordshire terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Perro de Presa Canario or Canary Mastiff
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Akitas
  • Wolf-hybrids
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Great Danes
  • Chow Chows

Furthermore you might not be offered coverage if your dog – regardless of its breed – has a history of aggression or has attacked anyone or other animals in the past. It depends on the insurance company as to whether or not your dog will be blacklisted but if you are unsure ask your broker. They will also be able to help you determine whether or not you should increase your liability insurance limit or buy an umbrella policy for additional coverage.

How to Lower Your Risk of Legal Liability

Whether or not your home insurance covers dog owner liability avoiding a lawsuit is always the best course of action. Here are some tips to lower your risk:

  • Know your dog. If you are aware of your dog’s tendencies and behaviour you can better anticipate how they will react in a certain situation. If you have recently come into ownership of your dog you might want to take the time to get to know them before taking them into any public setting.
  • Do not encourage aggressive tendencies . If your dog plays very rough this should be adjusted with training.
  • If your dog does have a history of aggression or has bitten in the past consider muzzling your pet . Some provinces require muzzles in public for particular dogs orother measuresfor dogs that have been deemed vicious in the past.
  • Get your dog spayed or neutered as this is proven to lessen potentially aggressive behaviours.
  • Never leave your animal alone with someone who does not know your pet’s behaviour or is not capable of handling your dog. This includes non-family members and children.
  • When outside of the home keep your dog on a leash to prevent unanticipated interactions with other dogs and people.
  • Train your dog . If you can’t do so yourself you might want to look into an experienced trainer or have your animal enrolled in obedience classes.

Guidelines for Getting Home Insurance for Dog Owners

There are really no exceptions to the size temperament or history of your dog when it comes to getting insurance since even small dogs can cause injury or damages unexpectedly. When it comes to insurance covering accidents that are caused by your dog you should ensure your limits are high enough. A $100,000 liability limit is recommended at a minimum with $1,000 for no-fault medical costs. This can be achieved through one policy or a combination of two or more.

Here are a few guidelines for getting coverage for your dog:

  • Get an umbrella policy if your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover accidents that are caused by your dog.
  • Consider a canine liability insurance policy . This may be necessary if you own dogs of a certain breed.
  • Ensure your liability limit is high enough to cover expected costs if you are held liable for damage or injury due to a dog attack whether it’s an umbrella canine liability or home insurance policy.

Check with your insurance broker to see what you can do when it comes to insuring accidents caused by your dog. If you find that your home insurance isn’t adequate they can help you find a policy that will be.