Some homeowner's policies don't cover pet liability

ORLANDO, Fla. - It can be your best friend, but if your dog bites, it can land your family in a lot of legal and financial trouble.

That trouble is now hitting insurance companies.

Dog bite claims cost them a half-billion dollars last year alone. That's a lot of money to lose, so to combat it, they're denying coverage.

It happened to Benjamin Sappington and his dog Bella, a pit bull.

When Sappington decided to buy a house in South Orlando, one of the first questions insurance agents had was, "Do you have a dog?"

Finding coverage was difficult, and in order to get that coverage Sappington felt he had to find Bella a new home.

"As a normal guy, making a normal wage, living a normal life," Sappington said. "This is something you have to deal with, it's just part of life."

Bella's breed, a pit bull, headlines a list of so called "dangerous dogs" that some insurance carriers don't even give a second look.

Maitland insurance consultant Mitchel Kalmanson says some of the other dogs are shepherds, Akita, Shar-Pei and Dobermans.

"Most of the carriers deny the coverage." Kalmanson said. "It's easier to deny it rather than have to defend it. They don't want anything to do with quote animals."

That's because the average settlement is pricey.

In a case where a dog bites someone who needs two stitches, court settlements can range from $45,000- $300,000. That's out of your pocket if you don't have a policy that covers your pets.

Renowned dog trainer Martin Deeley says he would like to see companies take into account a dogs training history.

"I would love it where the insurance companies said 'OK, we know you've got a dog on this list but has it got a canine Good Companion Certificate? Has it been to a trainer?'" he said.

Kalmanson says a stand alone policy can cost as little as $25 a month for dog with no biting history

Sappington has made his decision- Bella moved in with a friend.

For a full list of insurers that can supply dog insurance, click here.

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