Dogs and HOA Insurance
While your “best friend” may be your dog, and most dogs never bite, most property insurance companies have their own view of dogs and how they can create liability.
Insurance companies understand that owners of dogs in California, have strict liability for any harm caused by their dog should it bite someone. In short, if a dog injures someone, liability is not at issue. The dog owner is liable. The only issue becomes the amount of damages calculated in dollars.
When the owner of a dog that bites or attacks someone lives in a common interest development, the attorney representing the plaintiff will often times include the HOA as a defendant claiming that the association:
- Knew of the propensity of the dog to bite or attack;
- Should have known of the propensity of the dog to bite or attack;
- Failed to enforce reasonable rules that would have prevented the dog bite or attack; and/or
- Had a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises at all times.
In short, when a dog owned by a resident (owner or renter) injures someone, the homeowner association is usually named as a defendant. Every insurance company is aware of this fact.
It is also a fact, based upon years of claims experience, that most insurance companies consider the following list of dogs to be the most likely to bite or attack:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pincher
- German Shepherd
- Pit Bull
- Presa Canario
- Siberian Husky
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
As a result of their claims experience developed over many years, many insurance companies have done one or more of the following:
- Increased insurance premiums for homeowner associations that do not prohibit residents from keeping certain types of dogs;
- Increased the deductible for homeowner associations that do not prohibit residents from keeping certain types of dogs;
- Refused to renew insurance policies where the homeowner association has not prohibited residents from keeping certain types of dogs; and/or
- Eliminated all coverage for dog bites and attacks for certain types of dogs specified in the policy.
As an HOA property manager or board member, it is important to be aware of the concerns of insurance companies and to be fully aware of any restrictions or limitations included in policies that affect properties for which you have responsibility.
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