Households that include certain breeds of dog could soon find that they are being denied coverage.
Homeowners insurance companies across California are starting to make the decision as to whether or not they will be continuing to cover properties in which the owners have certain breeds of dog such as pit bulls.
These breeds are being seen as a potential liability, and the risk is deemed too high by some insurers.
There have been reports of certain homeowners insurance companies – including The Hartford, which was mentioned in an article published in The Sacramento Bee – that have been contacting customers with pit bulls and other dogs known for aggression. Those policyholders have been informed that they are considered to be too risky to insure, and would therefore be losing their present coverage.
This causes customers to face the decision between their homeowners insurance and their beloved pets.
In the case covered by The Sacramento Bee, a spokesperson for The Hartford, Heather Serignese, explained that “The presence of some dog breeds may make a home ineligible for insurance coverage.” She added that “Each customer’s situation is different and we encourage homeowners to speak with their insurance company or agent for more information.”
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The reason that insurers are not entirely keen to provide property insurance coverage to homes with certain dog breeds is that the cost of liability suits involving bites can be enormous. For example, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)released data from a study last May that showed that in 2013, dog bites made up over one in every three homeowner liability claims. The average claim cost about $27,800. The largest number of these claims occurred in California, where there were 1,919 filed, bringing about a total of $64.7 million.
It is also interesting to note that the I.I.I. also pointed out, in that study, that the total number of dog-related homeowners insurance liability claims had increased by 5.5 percent in 2013, when compared to the total from the year before. The report on the data explained that the increase could have been the result of “non-bite injuries” that occur as a result of dogs having knocked someone down, tripped them, scratched them, or frightened them. It is important to point out that those types of dog-related insurance claims are considerably less expensive than those related to bites, as the latter form could require reconstructive surgery.