BOSTON, April 12 /PRNewswire/ — Warm weather means more time outdoors — and more chances to play with your pets. And while walking your pooch on a sunny Spring day is one of the great joys in life, it’s important to use care and caution when bringing your pet out of the house.

According to the Humane Society, about 40 percent of American households own a dog. Many of these households also have insurance policies that, to some extent, provide protection for dog-related accidents. However, the New York based Insurance Information Institute reported that in 1999 insurers paid out over 1 billion dollars to cover claims for medical and liability costs related to dog bites. In addition, industry sources report that dog bites account for one-third of all homeowner insurance liability claims. Amazingly over 70% of all attacks occur on the owner’s property, according to Time Magazine.

That’s because dog bites are on the rise. In fact, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reports that the number of dog bites requiring medical attention jumped 37% between 1986 and 1996. The national Humane Society reports that there are as many as 3 million dog bites each year.

Predictably, there has been a sharp increase in premiums for dog-related insurance protection, as well as tougher standards imposed by insurance companies. In fact, many insurers are now refusing to write coverage for owners of certain breeds. How can you be sure that you and your pup are covered should a problem arise? Here are a few tips:

Best of Breed?: Some insurers simply refuse to provide coverage if you own a breed of dog deemed to be “”aggressive.”” While standards vary from company to company, and from state to state, dogs that typically raise red flags are the Akita, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Pit Bull, and Rottweiler.

Training and Prevention: The ways that you train and care for your dogs can have a tremendous impact on their behavior and increase your chances of purchasing appropriate insurance. Here’s some advice:

  • Teach your dog to obey commands. –
  • Try to make your dog comfortable with other dogs and other people.
  • In addition to training, a dog’s disposition can be altered through spaying and neutering. This is particularly true for male dogs.
  • Even on your own property, obey leash laws. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most dog-related fatalities involve unrestrained dogs.
  • Keep your dog away from threatening or teasing situations. Dogs react strongly to threats and taunts, whether real or imagined. In fact, children who are not experienced with pets are often attacked by dogs that misinterpret their actions.

Remember, most homeowners policies do provide some level of protection should your dog be involved in any unfortunate incident. As the owner, however, you must do your part to make sure you never need that protection. Train your pet properly, obey all laws and regulations, and use caution and common sense when bringing your dog outdoors.

Homesite Insurance offers homeowners, renters and condominium policies that provide comprehensive protection. The company’s policies include coverage for medical expenses, if someone is injured on your property, and liability exposures, protecting you against certain risks up to $100,000 per accident for bodily injury or property damage. Higher limits of liability and medical expense coverages are available. For a free homeowners or renters insurance quote, please visit us at or call to speak to a licensed insurance specialist at 1-800-Homesite.

Homesite Group Inc. was formed in 1997 and launched in 1999, and is dedicated to providing U.S. consumers with low-priced homeowners insurance coverage and outstanding service. Homesite’s insurance products are marketed directly to consumers, as well as through affinity groups, employers and selected partners.

Homesite was launched with equity commitments of more than $200 million from an investment group led by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity, the private equity business of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (NYSE: MWD). Since its founding 15 years ago, funds managed by Private Equity have invested $4 billion in more than 160 companies around the world. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity manages a group of funds that invest in technology companies with a focus on e-commerce, data communications, Internet infrastructure and information technology services.

SOURCE: Homesite Insurance


Contact: Manny Rios or BC Verniero of Homesite, 617-832-1300/ /Web site:


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