Dog breed predjudice creates insurance nightmare
It started off simply enough. The family called their home owner insurance carrier to make a claim regarding raccoon damage. The insurance adjuster came out, wrote out the claim, and then provided the check that replaced a roof, family room and several window frames.
The homeowner did nothing to hide her three dogs, pitbull, rottweiler and a mastiff/laborador retriever mix. "All seemed well," said the homeowner. " Until two days ago, when we got the letter of cancellation because we have a "Lab/Mastiff" breed in the home!!! We have never hid the fact that we have bully (pit bull terrier) breeds to anyone. All of the contractors coming and going looked forward to the end of the work day, just so they could spend some time with all of our dogs. What puzzles us is they picked out the one dog you would never see Lab in; plus no mention of Rottweilers & a pitbull in the cancellation notice."
This seemingly harmless event suddenly brought home to this family, which has rescued and fostered abandoned dogs for years, that dog breed assumptions are a hard part of pet ownership. More and more, communities, municipalities, home owner associations, and businesses are discriminating against dogs of certain breeds.
Large rental property managers accept pets, but not dogs of pit bull terrier, rottweiler or doberman breeding. Some towns bad the breeds outright within their communities. A Desert War veteran recently had to fight to regain ownership of his service dog because his township banned a breed. A protracted court fight and a $1 fine were required before he could regain his dog, the one thing that kept in from the panic attacks he developed because of his service on behalf of his country.
In response to the homeowner's pleas on an Illinois Rottweiler breed rescue site, a variety of suggestions came pouring in.
One individual suggested the modern-day remedy of starting a campaign against the insurance company on Twitter and Facebook.
Others suggested voting with their money, calling around to find companies that wouldnt' penalize certain breed owners, then making. Several owners of breeds discriminated against talkd openly of don't ask don't tell policies. Owners admitted to omitted the breeds they owned feeling that what the insurance company didn't know wouldn't hurt them.
Others suggested various national companies including State Farm and Farmers Insurance, Country Company and USAA, a company which provides coverage to military veterans and their families.
Others wondered if owners of dogs which are considered family friendly like collies and beagles were to face such issues if the ground swell of complaints would change attitudes.
Some pointed to a situation in which a Chicago resident running along the lakefront early one morning was attacked by a pair of pit bull terriers. It took several bullets from police officers to stop the attack which cost its victim one leg and hand. However, there was an immediate outcry from everyone from dog owners to the animal control officials stating that the breed wasn't to blame but rather the owner who did not control his animals.
A few days after the attack, 75 well behaved pit pulls and their owners showed up in the park to celebrate their obedient, people friendly dogs. Their message was clear: don't blame the breed.
Others suggested discriminated-breed owners make sure not only are they clear with their insurance company about the type of dog they own but also make sure either a special policy or insurance waiver which specifies what will and will not be covered in the instance of a dog bite claim.
Another owner shared her experience the warning she received from her insurance company.When she e applied for home owner insurance and told the agent her dog was a rottweiler, she was told some breeds, no matter how well behaved, are sometimes the target of money seeking folks who are lawsuit happy. The agent recalled a case in which individuals walked past a home daily in which a rottweiler lived.
Each day they tormented the large dog through the large picture window until one day the dog could take it no more and launched himself at them through the window. Immediately afterward they attempted to file a lawsuit against the home owner, claiming trauma from the vicious emotional attack. The lawsuit was thwarted only because of an alert neighbor who witnessed the torment.
Another owner blamed the industry, stating she believed it was possible insurance companies grasp on to any issue for policy cancellation. Insurance companies are always trying to clear their books of any home they actually have to insure rather than just take the premiums and do nothing. Breed discrimination is inconsistently and incoherently applied.
While any and all of the above reasons might be motives for insurance cancellation, breed bans continue to impact thousands of homeowners.
So to recap:
- Find out what your insurance company does and doesn't cover.
- Ask if there is a dog breed policy before you need it.
- If your dog is well trained, offer a rider to your company exempting them from dog bite claims.
- Call around and ask various companies what their policies for dog ownerships are.
- Call local shelters and rescue agencies to see what insurance companies they recommend.
- If you own a breed that may be designated as a dangerous breed - and that can include any dog over 50 pounds - speak to legislators, sign petitions for banning breed specific legislation.
- Speak to legislators regarding breed specific legislation.
- And vote with your dollars. Spend your money with businesses that support your breed.
Seek information on banned breeds
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