American Family Insurance giving notice to cancel Andy Woodward’s coverage.
In Nebraska, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Woodward was recently contacted by his homeowners insurance company, American Family, which informed him that they were terminating his policy because of the fact that he brings his police dog home with him to care for it.
Part of Woodward’s job includes the requirement that he must live with his police dog.
The County supported Woodward and originally argued with American Family, saying that all of its police dogs were separately covered by a different policy. However, regardless of the arguments that were made by the Douglas County, the deputy still received another letter following a visit from an employee of the homeowners insurance company who visited Woodward’s house.
The letter claimed that the homeowners insurance coverage would not be continued.
The reason given was that the fact that the deputy brought his police dog home with him, the additional liability exposure made the homeowners insurance company “unable to continue” the coverage.
According to The Huffington Post, the reasoning that American Family gave is that it feels that Diezel, the police dog, is considered an attack dog. The breed of the dog, a Belgian Malinois, is not on any of the prohibited breed lists that have been issued by the company, but the insurer has said that the degree of defense training that the dog has received increases the risk that it could bite someone.
Steve Witmer, a spokesperson for American Family, said that “We regret this situation occurred,” and went on to explain that “American Family Insurance supports law enforcement and pet owners. Mr. Woodward was a long-time customer of American Family Insurance, and we wanted to continue that relationship.”
Witmer’s emailed statement also stated that when Douglas County provides updated appropriate liability coverage information, the homeowners insurance company will be willing to renew the policy.
The homeowners insurance company feels that dog attacks and bites are a very important issue, as their own estimates show that 2 percent of the American population suffers a dog bite each year. This equals approximately 4.7 million individuals.
UPDATE: Since the original writing of this story, American Family has issued an apology to Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy, Andy Woodward, and has announced that it will be investigating ways to change its practices when it comes to homeowners insurance coverage when police dogs being brought home by policemen.