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Consider dog bites before renting, getting insurance in Illinois

While animal lovers consider their pets part of the family, dog owners should be aware that when they are moving into an apartment or house, having a dog can be an added expense.

In the state of Illinois many people forego renter's insurance, but homeowners don't have that option. Most policies include liability coverage, so if someone is injured on the premises, your policy should have coverage that protects you in taking care of the legal or medical expenses. Renters' policies consistently charge more if you have certain breeds of dogs considered dangerous. Pit Bulls are a notorious example.

If you don't have renters insurance, you fall into the 59 percent of people who just don't think they need it or it is too expensive. But if your Rottweiler gets out and bites the boy next door, consider medical and legal expenses you will be liable for.

Dog liability is a huge concern for insurance companies. In nation-wide studies, billions of dollars a year is spent on injuries resulting from dog attacks. Some insurers have too much experience with a certain breed and may decline to cover you or state they are not liable if your dog attacks or bites someone.

If you have gotten a quote from an insurance company, they may have asked you about what breed or mix of breed you have. A spokesperson for Travelers asks about American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Love your dog but keep in mind that when you take out a homeowner's or renter's policy in Illinois, your dog may be considered a threat and if he or she attacks someone, it becomes your problem. Dog bite injuries can take a toll on your finances. Make sure you understand potential problems if your breed is considered violent or aggressive. Seek advice from a person who knows about animal attacks so you will be aware of the responsibilities, as well as the rights involved in living with a beloved canine who could turn into a serious liability.

Source: Forbes, "Renting An Apartment? This Mistake Could Cost You $5,000 Or More" Maggie McGrath, Apr. 08, 2014

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