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Will I have trouble getting homeowners insurance if my dog has bitten someone in the past?

When you apply for homeowners insurance, an underwriter reviews your application. Part of this review involves examining any losses that have occurred while you have lived in your home. If your dog has bitten someone in the past and an insurance claim was filed, it doesn't necessarily mean you will have a hard time obtaining insurance. It depends on why the incident occurred, how the situation was handled, and what changes have been made to ensure the dog doesn't bite anyone again. Some of the questions an underwriter could ask are:

  • What caused the dog to bite someone? Was the dog provoked, or did he or she attack for no reason?
  • How serious was the injury?
  • What is the breed of the dog?
  • How old was the injured person?
  • Has the dog bitten people before?
  • Is the dog kept on a leash or otherwise secured?
  • What steps have you taken to make sure the dog won't bite anyone again?

You should be able to obtain a homeowners policy or renew the one you currently have if the dog has bitten someone only once as a result of being provoked, is not a vicious animal, is not on the insurance company's list of prohibited breeds, and is kept secured in the yard. If your dog has bitten people several times and is not well secured, you will probably have trouble getting insurance.

Your insurance agent can be your advocate in a case like this. He or she has an established relationship with underwriters at several different insurance companies. The agent can answer an underwriter's questions, guide you through any changes you need to make, and then help you obtain the insurance you need.