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Homeowners insurance quotes and those cute pets

This is one of those annoying idioms that gets dragged into discussions like this when the writer wants to signal dangers in the wording of the policies. While it's true there are many pits dug by the attorneys who write the policy terms, you can actually create little pits for falling into. One of the basic principles of insurance is the idea of good faith. The problem for insurers is the sheer numbers of people who buy their policies. It's administratively impossible to visit every home before deciding whether to insure it. All insurers can do is rely on what the home owners tell them and "hope for the best". Except the law is on their side. If an insurer can show you have failed to disclose something that's material to the assessment of the risk, it has the right to cancel the policy. Although, in most cases, you can recover the premium installments you have paid, this is little consolation if your claim is denied. So the big question is what should you disclose if you keep a pet?

It's actually a minefield if you share your home with some animals. Although you may think you're safe with dogs, many insurers have very strict rules about breeds considered potentially dangerous. If you keep a Rottweiler to deter burglars, this can result in big liability claims both when the dog bites a visitor and, perhaps surprisingly, a burglar. The laws differ from state to state but the general rule is that people may not claim if they knowingly take the risk of injury. So, if the owner actually warns a visitor not to go near the dog, the visitor cannot claim if he or she goes to pat it only to be bitten. Similarly, some burglars have been denied a claim when they ignored a big notice warning of dangerous guard dogs. But some states have dog-bite statutes that deny this defense to lawful visitors. Whether burglars can claim depends on your local laws. All this should warn you to very clearly tell your insurance company if you keep a dog known to be fierce. Now think about all the other animals you might keep as a “pet”. Every state has exotic pet laws restricting the type of animal you can keep in your home. Most states will refuse a permit to anything dangerous or endangered. If you are breaking the law by keeping such an animal in your home, this could invalidate your insurance.

For example, even in Florida it's illegal to keep a crocodile in your home. The fact they may wander on to your property from a nearby swamp is a defense. But actually trying to adopt one or later adding to the mythology of them in our sewer systems, can land you in serious legal trouble. So even though it may seem a great idea to stock the moat round your castle with piranha fish or keep rattlesnakes in the same draw as your jewelry, it's not worth the risk. Home insurance companies are very conservative when it comes to approving security measures. Alarm systems and lights are enough. If in doubt, make a full disclosure of what animals you have before you ask for homeowners insurance quotes. That way, you cannot go wrong.

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