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Dogs and HOA Insurance

 

Written by Attorney Michael T. Chulak

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:

Akita Pit Bull
       
Alaskan Malamute Presa Canario
       
Chow Chow Rottweiler
       
Doberman Pincher Siberian Husky
       
German Shepherd Staffordshire Bull Terrier
       

As a result of their claims experience developed over many years, some property 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.

Call attorney Michael T. Chulak at 818-991-9019 or 800-565-2232 for a no cost initial consultation regarding any legal matter.



 

 
 





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