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Northampton, MA 01060

Newsletter

2Oct. 2013

Four-Legged Risks to Your Homeowners Policy

Gus, our 16 month-old Portuguese Water dog, is a faithful companion and a joy to own. With just one teenager left at home, he has been a great addition to our family as we approach the empty nest stage of life.

No matter how bad of a day it’s been, Gus always brightens our spirits with his wagging tail and enthusiastic greeting. His loyalty is unfaltering and he never holds a grudge.

Dog ownership can impact life in many ways. Bringing a new dog home requires preparation and patience as they learn to become a part of the family.

If you have a dog, or plan to add one your household, you may also need to consider changes to your homeowners coverage.

The breed of dog you own is a key factor when an insurance carrier determines your eligibility for homeowners coverage. Carriers require that a separate questionnaire be completed by anyone with a dog in the home. If your breed is considered aggressive or dangerous, this increases the risk for injury and coverage can be denied. Coverage can also be denied if you own two or more dogs.

The breeds most likely to cause concern include: Akita, Bulldog, Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepard, Mastiff, Pit Bull, Presna Canario, Rotweiller, Staffordshire Terrier and Wolf Hybrid. Dogs that are a mixture of these breeds can be considered ineligible, too. If your dog has a history of biting or aggressive behavior, regardless of breed, coverage can also be denied.

If your dog bites or otherwise harms someone when behaving aggressively, you could be disqualified from coverage. Some insurance carriers still provide coverage if this happens, but require liability exclusion for the dog. This means that if your dog injures someone again, that liability is excluded from your policy and the carrier is not responsible to cover the claim.

There are some steps that you (and your dog!) can take to increase your homeowners insurance eligibility. For instance, some carriers will provide coverage if you complete the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program. Installing an invisible fence, or putting a fence up around your yard, can increase your eligibility. It also helps if your property otherwise poses limited risk to insure.

Owning unusual pets can also impact your homeowners policy. Exotic pets, such as snakes and ferrets, typically increase your risk for ineligibility.

Please give us a call if you have questions about your pets and your homeowners insurance. Our agents can review your policy and make sure you have the coverage you need.

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