• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

Homeowner's Cancellation

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.



This is probably more of a complaint than anything. I apologize for this very lengthy post. This occured in Indianapolis, IN.

I own two dogs, a Shepherd mix (3 years at the time of the incident)and one of her pups (6 months) who is a Pit Bull mix. Unfortunately, I did not have the sense to fence them, but would supervise them when I let them out and never had problems until an incident occurred with a neighbor's child. I never saw any evidence of the alleged dog bite and was not allowed to photograph or view the wound. The incident was blamed on both of my dogs, paramedics were called, a police report was made and both of my animals were impounded as the child's mother wanted to press charges against me for harboring vicious dogs.

Pending a court date a month away at which time a judge could order my dogs to be destroyed, I approached the child's mother with a settlement offer. I asked her if she would drop the charges for $500 cash. She agreed. I wrote up an agreement that I wanted to have her sign which stated that while I would not admit negligence, I would take steps to ensure the captivity of my dogs at all times immediately on their release from the pound and that she would pursue no further legal action upon acceptance of the agreed upon sum.

I had reported the incident to my insurance company but had not been in contact with a claims agent. I called to see if it was OK for me to settle the incident and to check with my insurance company to make sure the wording of my document was correct so that I/they could not be sued at a later time. My claims rep was not available, however I spoke to his manager. I explained the situation and this manager confirmed that my release form was worded appropriately. He asked if I was sure the victim's guardian would settle for $500 and I said I was. He then put the wheels in motion to cut the victim's guardian a check in that amount (which I had thought to pay out of my own pocket) and to have her sign a second release form which I would need to return to the insurance company in order for them to release the check. I thought great, one less thing.

I had the victim's mother sign both release forms and call the animal control center to release the dogs. I secured my fence and brought the dogs home, she received her check and everyone lived happily ever after...until I received notice of cancellation of my homeowner's policy about a month later.

Now, due to this incident, I cannot be insured except through a FAIR program administered by the state of Indiana. It is not comprehensive coverage, and provides nowhere near the coverage I previously had.

I have been with this insurance company for over 5 years, auto and renters insurance and then homeowners when I bought my house. Had I been made aware at any time that I would lose coverage by letting the insurance company handle this claim, I would have paid the $500 out of pocket as I had intended from the first. No other insurance company will touch me.

I have little doubt that my insurance company has no obligation to inform me of claims which may void my coverage, however I was prepared to (and in fact did) handle this matter with little/no assistance and only received assistance when it was volunteered, not realizing the consequences. Do I have any recourse?



Senior Member
The problem is not that they paid the $500 claim, but that you have a hazardous animal and if it escapes again they may have a $5 million claim, and there is no way you can assure them the dog can not possibly harm anyone.

If you failed to report the claim in time and the owner did not settle, the company may not have been liable, so it's not that you had them pay it, it's the fact that your dog is a real danger!


Thank you for your response. You have made an excellent point. I read somewhere that about 99% of dog bite incidents are a result of owner negligence and that was certainly true in my case. I came very close to having the Pit Bull (who was almost certainly responsible for the bite) put to sleep but instead had him neutered and have taken him through behavioural training. This made a world of difference, as did changing my own attitudes toward owning what many people perceive to be a vicious animal. He's not so much vicious as I was ignorant of how to properly raise and keep a dog, particularly one who has not had experience with children.

As a pet owner, sometimes it's hard to realize that being a responsible pet owner entails forseeing hazards that may occur as a result of keeping even a 'well-trained' dog. In this instance I have definitely learned a few things and I am certainly careful now that neither my dog, nor I, nor my friends and neighbors are put into dangerous situations due to my stupidity. Boy, sometimes life's lessons don't come cheap!


Find the Right Lawyer for Your Legal Issue!

Fast, Free, and Confidential