It is completely essential that a dog owner have some kind of insurance that will protect him or her against liability if the dog injures a person. There are circumstances, however, where a dog owner may find difficulty obtaining insurance. For example, if a dog is declared dangerous or there is a pending proceeding against the dog, the insurance might be suspended or cancelled. Here is what to do if that happens:
First, check whether you have the right to appeal, under the law that was used to declare the dog to be dangerous. An attorney might well be necessary for this. Do this very, very soon after the decision is announced, because the right to appeal lasts only for a short time. However, if in doubt, see a lawyer to find out how much time you have.
Second, talk to several or many insurance companies. Keep in mind that there are companies that will write insurance specifically covering canine liability (see Where to get dog owner liability insurance on this page). Perhaps you can supplement your current insurance with a special policy from one of those companies — in other words, you would end up being insured under both policies at the same time.
Third, if neither your regular insurance company nor another homeowners or renters insurance company will help you, but they do not cancel you, talk to an agent about getting a policy of umbrella insurance that covers what the underlying insurance won’t cover. It is essential that the umbrella provides coverage for gaps in the underlying policy’s scope of coverage. Make sure your agent knows that you need the umbrella policy to protect you against canine liability and that your underlying policy has been suspended or that canine liability coverage has been excluded from the underlying policy.
Fourth, if you can’t get insurance at all, even canine liability insurance, then you have to give up the dog to a rescue organization, a relative, or a shelter (where it might be adopted-out or even put down). Attorney Kenneth Phillips cannot recommend that you allow yourself to be uninsured because of the dog. A dog must not leave you in total jeopardy, financially speaking. However, if you give up the dog to any third party, you must disclose the fact that the dog has a history of dangerousness and any official orders pertaining to the dog. If you give away a dog that is dangerous, without fully disclosing the danger, you may be held liable for not only full compensation of a future victim, but also punitive damages.