Pet Dog Could Affect Homeowners’ Insurance

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Your family's choice of a pet dog could cost you your homeowners insurance.

An insurance group says companies pay out an average of $21,000 per claim on dog bites or attacks. As a result of these claims, many companies refuse to insure pit bulls, Rottweilers and other breeds.

Lori Jasinski said her four-year-old Siberian Husky is always easy going. "She's docile. She's great with little kids," Jasinski said.

The company that insures her Wyoming County home has another definition, ineligible.

"I didn't know I had an ineligible dog, or what an ineligible dog meant," Jasinski said.

It means there is too high a risk to have a Siberian Husky in the house.

When Jasinski's family bought an upstate New York cabin this spring, Travelers Insurance refused to write a policy.

Earlier this month Travelers sent the Jasinskis a notice of cancellation for insurance on the family's main house because of a Siberian Husky on the premises.

"I have until July 25 to get new homeowner's insurance, otherwise, I'm uninsured. God forbid if something happens to my property. I have no insurance," said Jasinski.

As a breed, Siberian Huskies are closely related to wolves. Closely related, but does that make her a dangerous dog?

Newswatch 16 checked with Pennsylvania's largest homeowner insurers and found all will cancel policies if a dog has a history of aggressive behavior, regardless of breed.

Allstate and Nationwide will not insure your home, or will cancel your policy if you have a pit bull, a Rottweiler, or a chow.

Nationwide also won't insure homes with Dobermans.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, some smaller insurers will cancel policies for those with German shepherds, Akitas, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Alaskan Malamutes and yes, Siberian Huskies.

"It does vary by company on the frequency of claims that they experience with those dogs," said Lynn Berkhimer of Joyce Insurance Agency.

Risk manager Berkhimer said homeowners should contact their agent before buying a dog and may be taking a risk if they don't.

"If that dog is on the restricted breed list, and you didn't contact that insurance agent, they could deny the claim," Berkhimer explained.

"I have never heard of a Siberian Huskie attack," Jasinski said.

She will be able to get another policy, but it will likely cost more.

"People are forced now to have the option of paying more in their homeowners insurance or getting rid of their family pet," Jasinski added.

Late Tuesday a Travelers corporate spokesperson said the company just completed a review of its ineligible breeds and took Siberian Huskies off the list.

Lori Jaskinski hasn't heard directly from Travelers about her policy that will be canceled in 12 days. She is shopping around.