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Dangerous dogs and homeowners insurance

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Faciabella

Guest
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? Massachusetts

I live in a Massachusetts suburb which does not have a dangerous dog ordinance on the books, and we have had some problems in my ward with aggressive dogs. In one case, a pit bull mix, unprovoked, leapt a fence and mauled an elderly Golden Retriever in front of six screaming children playing in their own back yard. The dog lunged at a five year old and the mother who tried to defend the family pet. It took three adults, one using dog deterent spray and another striking the enraged animal with a shovel, to fend off the dog. The Golden Retriever survived, and the police and animal control department attempted a mediation, but the owner of the Pit-bull mix will not agree to secure his yard with an escape proof fence.

In a second case, a pit bull in another neighborhood has terrorized neighbors for several years. It has bitten two people,(neither bite was serious enough to warrant medical attention) one on her own front porch, killed an neighbors cat, attempted to bite a two year old, had a delivery man face down in the street curled in a fetal position while circling and growling, etc. The city has issued citations demanding the family muzzle the dog and keep it in an escape proof enclosure, but the family will not comply.

My question is this...both these dog owners are well aware of their dogs aggressive tendencies, they are documented in police reports. If the inevitable happens, and someone is injured or mauled, does the homeowners insurance company have to honor the claim? I realize that some insurance companies have breed bans, it is not certain if the insurance companies which cover these individuals know they own pit bulls/ pit bull mixes. Even if the insurance companies providing coverage to these individuals do not ban these breeds, does Massachusetts insurance law require them to cover a claim if there is proof that the owners knew the dogs were dangerous, but refused to take steps to protect the public? I am thinking of the analogy involving "risk" which states that, if you are operating a dynamite factory in your basement, your insurance provider won't cover you if your house blows up, because you took unneccesary risks. We are hoping that the knowledge that their insurance company will not cover a claim against a dog bite will compel these individuals to secure their dogs properly.
 


Souix

Senior Member
Faciabella said:
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? Massachusetts

I live in a Massachusetts suburb which does not have a dangerous dog ordinance on the books, and we have had some problems in my ward with aggressive dogs. In one case, a pit bull mix, unprovoked, leapt a fence and mauled an elderly Golden Retriever in front of six screaming children playing in their own back yard. The dog lunged at a five year old and the mother who tried to defend the family pet. It took three adults, one using dog deterent spray and another striking the enraged animal with a shovel, to fend off the dog. The Golden Retriever survived, and the police and animal control department attempted a mediation, but the owner of the Pit-bull mix will not agree to secure his yard with an escape proof fence.

In a second case, a pit bull in another neighborhood has terrorized neighbors for several years. It has bitten two people,(neither bite was serious enough to warrant medical attention) one on her own front porch, killed an neighbors cat, attempted to bite a two year old, had a delivery man face down in the street curled in a fetal position while circling and growling, etc. The city has issued citations demanding the family muzzle the dog and keep it in an escape proof enclosure, but the family will not comply.

My question is this...both these dog owners are well aware of their dogs aggressive tendencies, they are documented in police reports. If the inevitable happens, and someone is injured or mauled, does the homeowners insurance company have to honor the claim? I realize that some insurance companies have breed bans, it is not certain if the insurance companies which cover these individuals know they own pit bulls/ pit bull mixes. Even if the insurance companies providing coverage to these individuals do not ban these breeds, does Massachusetts insurance law require them to cover a claim if there is proof that the owners knew the dogs were dangerous, but refused to take steps to protect the public? I am thinking of the analogy involving "risk" which states that, if you are operating a dynamite factory in your basement, your insurance provider won't cover you if your house blows up, because you took unneccesary risks. We are hoping that the knowledge that their insurance company will not cover a claim against a dog bite will compel these individuals to secure their dogs properly.

***You would have to find out who their insurance company is and what their policy is. Also, do you know for a fact that these people have homeowners insurance? If they own their home free and clear and there is no loan against it, they don't have to have any insurance at all, if they don't want it.***
 

JETX

Senior Member
"If the inevitable happens, and someone is injured or mauled, does the homeowners insurance company have to honor the claim?"
*** Simple answer, no. As you have noted, some insurance companies ban coverage for specific breeds. If the owners insurance has that exclusion, then their insurance clearly would not pay.

"does Massachusetts insurance law require them to cover a claim if there is proof that the owners knew the dogs were dangerous, but refused to take steps to protect the public?"
*** No.

As for Massachusetts laws regarding dogs, there are LOTS of laws that would apply. Go to: http://www.massfeddogs.org/laws/dlindex.htm
 
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Faciabella

Guest
In response to Souix, the owner of the pit bull mix actually admitted to his neighbor previously that he had trouble getting homeowners insurance and had to shop around because of his dogs' breed. We are not sure about the other family.
 
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Faciabella

Guest
In response to Jetx, thank you for the link. One of the problems we are having right now with the city is enforcement; we have not determined why the police and animal control have been unable to persuade, (perhaps through fines) the owners of the dog that has already bitten two people, and reeked general havoc in that neighborhood for years, to keep the dog confined to its owners property.
 
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