Being a dog owner is worth it, for all the troubles that it carries. Sure, you have a harder time finding an apartment and you have to do twice as much vacuuming in the summer, but at the end of the day, you live a lot longer than people who don’t own pets, and you have a friend who would take a bullet for you, so really, the extra hassle when it comes to finding cheap home insurance rates is nothing if not worth it.
Still, when you have a dog, insurers aren’t just looking at you, they’re looking at your dog and often making the assumption that your dog is some kind of untrained wild animal. Whether or not your dog is house trained, whether or not they’re even capable of biting the mailman, insurers are often working under the assumption that your dog isn’t doing anything in a day but biting people and soiling carpets.
Of course, when it comes to car insurance, some insurers will “throw you a bone” by offering free pet car insurance coverage with a standard car insurance policy but for homeowners insurance companies it can be quite a different story.
When it comes down to it, insurance is all about risk management, of course, so it makes more sense in the long run to ensure that you are protected in the event of mistakes, misunderstandings and even in the instance of a dog doing the right thing to the wrong person.
If, for instance, a burglar hops into your backyard and gets bitten, their story might not include the fact that they were planning on robbing your home. Their alibi may include a frisbee they tossed over the fence by accident. Even if you have the most well trained dog in the world, these are the kinds of claims you’re up against.
Just watch a court TV show sometime. No matter the circumstance, the judge seems to side against the dog owner almost one hundred percent of the time. In civil court, it’s one party’s word against the other’s, and if the only eyewitness on your side can’t speak, that puts you at a disadvantage in a court of law.
Whether it comes down to urban legend and misunderstanding, or real, scientifically backed points regarding the dog’s temperament, the following dog breeds can be hard to add onto a homeowners insurance policy:
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Siberian Husky
- Presa Canario
- Pit Bull
- Doberman Pinscher
- Chow Chow
- Alaskan Malamute
- German Shepherd
Pit bull owners will tell you that they’re really not anymore likely to attack random strangers than the next breed, but unfortunately, they have a bad reputation, and that matters in a court of law, so it matters when it comes to buying insurance.
Keeping Your Costs Down
There’s good news in all of this doom-saying: there’s a handful of things you can do that will be very effective in keeping the costs down. They include:
- Use A Beware of Dog Sign: Or a couple of them, even. These will let people know to keep out of your backyard. Yes, it’s odd that in this day and age we have to tell people not to trespass, but be that as it may, a beware of dog sign at least lets people know that your dog may bite intruders.
- Consult with a Professional if Your Dog Shows Aggressive Behavior: Even if the aggressive behavior was perfectly understandable, making sure that you keep that behavior in check is vital to keeping your costs down and protecting yourself should a case go to trial.
- Avoid Games of Aggression: In a broad sense, you may be thinking “what, no tug-of-war?” but aggression here is defined as being anything that can be construed as violence.
- Buy a Well Bred Dog: This tip is a little silly, actually, as pure-bred dogs often suffer from various aggression problems due to in-breeding. But, the courts don’t know this, so it doesn’t matter. Anyways, dog owners don’t choose who they fall in love with by breed, but by personality. Still, if you own a pure-bred, at least know that you have the upper hand here.
- Train Your Dog Well: A dog who’s been to a training school, or whose owner can show the receipts for a dozen books and tools for training, is going to result in much lower home insurance costs than a dog who’s been trained by the owner’s intuition alone. No matter how much you think you know about training, making sure they’re trained by the book can be a big help in keeping costs down.
- Talk to a Professional Before Adopting a Dog: Again, this tip sounds a little odd. Nevertheless, just showing that you bought or adopted a dog after consulting with a dog trainer who knows breeds can help in keeping your liability insurance cheap.
- Be Careful in New Situations: Try to avoid situations where you’re not one hundred percent sure how your dog is going to react. Even the most well-trained dog might have a bad reaction to certain situations.
- Spay and Neuter: This is simply an important tip whether or not you’re shopping for insurance but it’s also important to know that spaying/neutering may curb aggression.
- Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone with Children: Even if you know your dog can be trusted, other people don’t, so don’t leave your dog alone with infants or small children.
For dog owners, the world is full of people who misunderstand our best friends, who see aggression where a dog lover sees playfulness. Sadly, we’ve chosen as our best friends a breed of animal that some people are unjustly afraid of. This means we pay more for insurance and always have to be aware of the issue of liability. However, if you plan things through and make sure that you’re covered, you don’t really have too much to worry about in the long run.
Author Bio: Crystal is a freelance writer and mother. She writes for a number of different personal finance websites including a website for comparing homeowners insurance quotes online. When she is not researching and writing money saving articles she is probably getting some exercise walking around the block with her English Bulldog Charles.