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5/28 InsWeb's Insurance Blog | Car Insurance, Home Insurance, Life Insurance, Personal Finance

If Your Dog Bites the Mailman, You'd Better Have Home Insurance
May 27, 2009 at 10:24 am

No animal loves the warmer months more than a playful dog. Leisurely walks around the neighborhood, visits to the park, playing with the sprinkler in the front yard--they're all a blast for our four-legged friends.

But man's best friend isn't always--well--friendly, and if your dog bites someone and you're lacking adequate home insurance coverage, you'll be left footing the bill for damages beyond your policy limit.

Over 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year, causing a whole heck of a lot of financial losses for home insurance companies. In fact, dog bites cost home insurers over $300 million in 2005, and account for over one-third of all home insurance liability claims.


Nobody knows ferocious dogs better than the mailman. When a dog chases the mailman out of the yard, everyone has a good laugh. "Rover is such a goof!" everyone chuckles. But a week later when Rover gets a good jump and sinks his teeth deep into the mailman's backside, the situation isn't funny anymore--especially when you're the one held responsible for the damages. That's why it's crucial that dog owners make certain they keep an adequate level of home liability coverage.

Hoping to stem their tremendous losses, some home insurance companies have banned particularly aggressive dog breeds from coverage. If your dog's breed is a poodle or a Chihuahua, your home insurance company probably won't bat an eye. But a pit bull, Rottweiler or other "blacklisted" dog breed could cause you to be denied coverage altogether.

If you're having trouble finding affordable home insurance coverage because of your dog, there's another option: you can ask your insurer to exclude your dog, in which case you'll be financially responsible for any damage he causes. But that's a last resort, and it may be in your best interest to shop around for a home insurance policy that covers all your needs.

Whatever the situation, keep your dog on a leash while outside enjoying the warm spring air. Otherwise, you may end up pleading Rover's case on the next episode of Judge Judy.