How Can Owning a Pet Affect Home Insurance Costs?

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  • Millions of Americans own dogs these days, and when it comes to man’s best friend, most people believe that theirs would never hurt anyone. But the fact of the matter is that dog bites and other mishaps happen more often than most people think, and actually account for a healthy percentage of all home insurance claims made nationwide. As a consequence, dog ownership can have a major impact on home insurance bills, and agents might have to do a little more work to explain to policyholders why this is, and what they can do to keep those costs as low as possible.

    The latest data from the Insurance Information Institute shows that more than 1 in every 3 home insurance claims paid out by policy providers comes because of an injury caused by a dog, and last year alone, these claims cost insurers more than $483 million, according to a report from The Street. Moreover, the average cost of these claims was nearly $28,000 in 2013, and that number has risen 45 percent in the last few years, as a result of both increasing medical costs and growing settlement figures.

    So what can owners do?
    The fact of the matter is that if homeowners don’t want to pay more for their home insurance when they own a dog, they should try to do all in their power to make sure they’re proving their dog isn’t a threat to injure anyone, the report said. This can be done through the American Kennel Club, which has a six-week class followed by a 10-step test that can show dogs are not aggressive. But this might not be enough in some cases, because dogs of certain breeds carry with them the stigma of being more aggressive than others, even if that’s not the case for individual dogs.

    “We’ve had multiple insurance agents from different companies tell us that as far as they are concerned, the Canine Good Citizen test is as much or more of a way to screen owners as it is dogs,” AKC director Mary Burch, a certified applied animal behaviorist, told the site. “[It says] this is a person who is likely to be responsible.”

    Agents who can determine other ways to help consumers reduce their home insurance costs may find some amount of loyalty, but studies show that people might be more enamored of professionals’ ability to provide them high-quality customer service. Therefore, striking a balance between the two may help ensure maximum client retention.