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4/25/2012 - Insurance ramifications of dog ownership

Dogs represent a liability risk.

While the dog may be man's best friend, individuals who are in the market to buy a new pet may want to consider the insurance implications before falling in love with one.

Dog bites accounted for approximately 33% of all homeowners insurance liability claims in 2010, costing insurers $413 million, according to statistics from the Insurance Information Institute.

Because some breeds have a history of biting more frequently than others, the type of dog may affect whether consumers will be covered, according to Loretta Worters, vice president of the III.

"If a company has had experience over a number of years with a particular dog breed that has cost them money, it's their prerogative not to have to insure something they perceive as a risk," Worters told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The dog breeds most frequently rejected by insurers include pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and German shepherds, III notes.

Despite this, Worters noted that most homeowners and renters insurance policies would cover liability claims for any incidents involving visitors to a home, traditionally ranging between $100,000 and $300,000. Worters says it may be in policyholders' interest to get a plan with a higher limit or umbrella insurance plan, as the dog owner will be responsible for any medical expenses that exceed the policy's amount.

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