Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homeowners insurance and CGC certified dogs

I just wanted to share this... I think it's hilarious. But also sad. Not in a "boo-hoo" sad but more of a "what is this world coming to?" sad. Make sense? It's an article from the Chicago Tribune about a man who lost his homeowner's insurance because of his dogs.


It's really short. So, you know what, I'll just post the whole article:

Allied Insurance paid Tom Stephenson's claim after a storm knocked down his backyard fence.
A short time later, the insurance company abruptly canceled the West Chicago resident's homeowners policy.
It wasn't the claim that led Allied to pull the plug. It was his dogs.
In July, an Allied adjuster visited Stephenson's house as part of a routine check. A few weeks later, Stephenson received a letter from the insurance company saying his policy would be canceled because he has pit bulls.
Stephenson was apoplectic. He could handle the policy cancellation. What he couldn't accept was his dogs, Bumper and Tease, being called pit bulls.
They are, he said, highly trained, award-winning American Staffordshire terriers.
For Stephenson, it was a matter of perception.
"It's insulting to call my dogs pit bulls," Stephenson said. "When pit bulls bite someone, it makes headlines because, honestly, they have a very strong bite. But they call everything a pit bull. Well, they're not pit bulls."
Stephenson said that after he received the letter from Allied, he called to complain. The customer service representative told him that certain breeds of dogs are prohibited from coverage, including both pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers.
"We got the policy out and there was nothing about dogs on it," Stephenson said.
Even so, he told the representative he wanted a new cancellation notice calling Bumper and Tease by their correct breed. His primary concern was that Allied would send his information to other insurance companies, which might also have a problem insuring homes with pit bulls.
Stephenson said he asked his agent and Allied to send a new letter, but none arrived. So he emailed What's Your Problem?
"I'm not saying anything bad about pit bulls, because there are some great pit bulls," he said. "It's all the way you raise them and what you do with them, for crying out loud. I could take a poodle and make it the terror of the neighborhood."
He said both his dogs are sweethearts, and the older one, Bumper, has been used as a therapy dog in visits to senior centers and children's hospitals.
"We've got every obedience degree possible," Stephenson said. "Everybody brags about my dogs."
The Problem Solver called Nancy Smeltzer, a spokeswoman for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, which owns Allied Insurance.
Less than a week later, Stephenson received a corrected cancellation letter, stating Allied dropped his coverage because he owns American Staffordshire terriers.
In an email, Smeltzer said Allied's dog policy is pretty standard.
"Like most insurance carriers, Allied does not write certain dog breeds in Illinois," she said.
Included on the list are both pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers, along with 15 other breeds, including Rottweilers, Dobermans, chow chows, Akitas, mastiffs and English bull terriers.
The policy also excludes coverage for houses that have any mix of an ineligible breed with an eligible one, such as a Rottweiler-Labrador mix, Smeltzer said.
"These dog breeds are not written because they have a higher incidence of causing property damage and bodily harm than other dog breeds," she said.
Smeltzer added that "exceptions could be considered" if the policyholder's dog has received the Canine Good Citizens certificate from the American Kennel Club.
Stephenson, while glad to get the corrected letter, said he was never told about the possible exception. Both his dogs have Canine Good Citizens certificates.
"All my dogs have much higher certificates," he said. "They didn't even ask me if my dogs had certificates."
Not that Stephenson has to worry about coverage. Shortly after Allied dropped him, he signed up with Allstate.
"I was very upfront with them. I told them that I got dropped (because of my dogs)," Stephenson said.
Allstate told him owning American Staffordshire terriers was no problem.

And that's why I think that it's so important to have dogs get CGC certified. Not that it would've mattered in this guy's case since his insurance apparently didn't tell him about the exception... But that's why I tell anyone who comes in with a "bully breed" (I'll be PC and not call them all pit bulls), especially if it's a puppy, and especially if they admit to me that they're hiding it from their landlord- that many landlords are lifting breed restrictions if the dog is CGC certified and that our Advanced class preps dogs to take the CGC test.

I plan to get both of my pups CGC certified- not that it'd really matter for homeowners insurance since neither breeds are ever on breed restriction lists, but it's just a good thing to do. Then, I can get them both certified to be therapy dogs so I can take them into hospitals and things of that sort.


  1. Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it. Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people.

    homeowners insurance

  2. The American Kennel Club is pleased to share the news that in some regions, Nationwide Insurance is issuing homeowners insurance to owners of breeds previously prohibited by the company, providing the dog passes the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.