Liability is the portion of one's insurance that covers one's legal responsibility to pay for damages due to an accident or loss. Dog bites occurring from a policyholder's dog would fall into this category.
So what happens when insurance companies start classifying certain dog breeds as high-risk? Well, homeowners with those specific dog breeds may have a hard time qualifying for a homeowners insurance policy. Current policyholders may be paying more to own a high-risk breed or have to face the risk of possibly being dropped after a liability claim from a dog incidence.
This problem is large, nationwide, and is increasing quickly but, as with all issues there are two sides. Of course, for the insurer, it makes since that if a particular breed of dog is constantly producing liability claims, that risk must be assessed properly to insure a stable business and to keep other policy holder's costs down. But, on the opposite side, some believe insurance carriers are relying on false or unfounded assumptions that certain dog breeds are more dangerous than others and not realizing that all dogs have the potential to be dangerous.
Homeowners are not the only people being targeted. Anyone who owns a dog may eventually have to carry some type of liability coverage. New York has considered legislation that would require proof of liability coverage from anyone applying for a dog license. Uninsured dogs who are found without insurance coverage would risk being taken from their owner and sent to the local animal shelter.
So what is a dog owner to do? If you are a dog owner or plan to be one in the future check out the four steps below to help you not be a victim of this ongoing debate:
1. Avoid the problem altogether and get a mutt! The local animal shelter has plenty of good dogs to choose from and with a mutt you should not have any problems getting insurance.
2. If you have to have a certain breed try to pick one that has not been judged (either fairly or unfairly) as high-risk. Every insurance company has their definition of a high-risk dog so check with the company first to see if there will be a problem with the breed you decide to choose. In general, common high-risk breeds are Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pincers, and Pit Bulls.
3. Think Safety...keep your dog in a secure fence, use a muzzle if necessary, and never leave your dog alone with anyone. If you already have insurance and avoid having an incident then you don't have to worry about filing a liability claim from your dog's actions.
4. Get involved! If you feel certain breeds of dogs are being unfairly labeled or if you feel ALL dog owners should have to pay higher insurance then get involved in the decision making. All insurance companies are state regulated and there is probably legislation currently being reviewed in your state. Contact your local Representative and let them know how you feel.