Get Rid of Dogs say the insurance underwriter!

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Boxer Buddy
I probably should not write this while I am angry and I must say this might be long...I will take any and all advice so please help me out here!

I have three boxers, we live in the country with little to no visitors to our home. The dogs are contained with a six foot privacy fence on one side of the yard and chainlink on the other(the back yard is crossfenced). When ever someone comes to our home (delivery, neighbor, friends) the dogs will bark and attack each other. Mostly bark and then jump and charging of each other. When we are home we can get them to stop but when we are not home they really can be scary.

We take them to the park, for rides, to the vet, boarding...we do get them away from home. What we don't do is allow too many people around them so they are not socolaized. They have never gotten out of our yard, have never tried to bite anyone while out with us, at the vet or boarded, and we have always appreciated the fact that they bark when strangers are around our house.

Well, our insurance underwriter made a visit to our home on the day I had the dogs contained on the chainlink fence side of the yard due to a propane delivery(normaly the dogs are in the privacy fence side but I knew the propane guy was coming and did not want to stress them out) Anyway...he, the insurance guy, deemed my dogs agressive and told me I have until Nov to get rid of and not bring the breed back into my yard. If I don't I will not have insurance. I called and talked to him and he said the dogs attacked each other and that is agressive and therefore a liability. Needless to say I am so upset I don't know what to do.

My dogs do not act that way outside of their yard...only in their yard! They have never attacked/barked/jumped on each other outside of their yard. While I am concerned about their behavior while in the yard I never dreamed that they would be labled agressive for it! I really am at a loss as of what to do! I know I have got to do something but I don't feel it is fair to tell me to get rid of my dogs when there has been no law broken.

What my husband and I have talked about is: finding a behaviorlist (in OK might not be too easy!), seperating all three dogs so none of them are together, switching insurance companies(we have had this carrier for over 3 years and even had the dogs when we got it). We also wondered if we got them muzzles they might stop fighting each other? The thinking behind that is if they could not bite each other(which i don't think they are actually bitting) then they would stop trying? Again, any advice I would appreciate.


Completely Boxer Crazy
Boy that is a tough one. Did the underwriter make an unannounced call that day? I have a friend that has 3 German Shepherds and 1 pit/lab mix and her insurance company seen all the dogs and told her point blank that if she would ever switch homeowners insurance she would have a heck of a time. She was not dropped because the insurance company was happy with the kennels she had in place for the dogs.
Maybe you need to place a call again to the insurance company on Monday and have the underwriter look again at your situation. Maybe he couldn't "see" clearly, the fenced in yard, with the dogs so upset with the propane delivery. I would read your policy before you call. Check with the state insurance commissioner if you do not get anywhere or if your policy does not state the ownership of dogs and the liability clearly. Stand your ground camly and firmly and try to prove that you have every reasonable percaution in place to contain the dogs. I hope there is someone on the board that is in the insurance business that can help. That's my opinion. Good Luck and keep us updated-this is likely to happen more and more.


Boxer Insane
Please do your best to find a behaviorist.

What your seeing with your dogs is redirected aggression (the dogs can’t get to the source of their frustration so they take it out on each other). Its is not uncommon but it’s a terrible habit that you need to put an end to. It’s not safe for your dogs and if allowed to continue it will perpetuate and continue to become more sever. If I were you I would have the three dogs separated when you leave them so that they cannot continue to practice this behavior. And when you are there you need to put them in sit stays & teach them self-control.

Dogs should never be muzzled with left unattended. And a muzzle won’t solve your problem anyway.

I have no advice about the insurance thing. But it would be a cold day in hell before I’d get rid of my dogs due to some insurance adjusters suggestion. I would definitely look into using a different company.


Boxer Insane
sorry, long response, but an explaination

My husband is in the insurance industry, and I asked him about this because to me it didn't seem right either. Basically, as much as it seems unfair, the underwriter had every right to do what he did. It does have everything to do with liability, and nothing to do with legality. Even though you have not broken any law, if someone were to tresspass on your property and your dogs attacked that person, you (and your insurance company) would be 100% liable for any damage your dogs did to that person, even though they were tresspassing. That's the law. Because they have been witnessed by your insurance company being aggressive toward strangers/in the presence of strangers, that is all the grounds they need to say the dogs have to go or they will drop your policy, because they look at the probability that something WILL happen, not a record of whether or not anything has. Kind of like trampolines.... if you have a trampoline on your property it is a HUGE liability (believe it or not the highest you can have on a residential policy) because if the probability that at some point your children or their friends will be hurt on it. When the insurance company determines that the liability outweighs the payment they are recieving for the policy, they have the rights within thier contract with you to give you notice to remove the liability issue or they will let you go. I know, it doesn't seem fair....

That said, while I understand why the underwriter is saying these things, I am VERY sorry you are having to deal with this. You might try getting together with him and offering to take your dogs to a behaviourist and provide proof to him that you are doing so and that there is progress being made, and asking that they extend their deadline a certain amount of time to give you a chance to prove that you are working to resolve the problem. They just might work with you, especially since you haven't ever had a situation where your dogs DID attack. Clean record and all that. Its worth a shot to talk to them about it at least. I sure hope this helps, and I will be thinking positive thoughts in your directions. Keep us posted on your progress!


Completely Boxer Crazy
I am so sorry you are going through this!
I would really look into switching insurance companies. We checked with ours before we got our boxer, as many companies now have a list of "banned" breeds (which for reasons I cannot understand, sometimes include boxers.) Our insurance didn't care what dog we got... but our policy has a very clear exclusion for damage caused by our dog. If our boxer attacks someone on our property, we're liable, not our insurance. Same goes if she damages our house, they won't pay if the damage to our stuff is caused by our dog. Kind of like how many policies exclude flood damage or hail damage unless you pay for them separately.
All this is fine with me... I pay for insurance to protect me from things I can't control, like fires and hail. My dog's behavior is something that's within my control and it's my responsibility. (And even though our girl has never done anything but slobber on strangers, we still take precautions. She is crated or confined inside if we're not home, even when I am home she doesn't go outside without me.)
I would think if you worked with an insurance agent, they could find you a policy that works this way.
Having said all that - contacting a behaviorist is still a good idea. Even if it doesn't affect your insurance, your dogs' behavior is worrisome. Sounds like they are so stressed by visitors... poor things... not healthy for them, and stressful for them, for you, and for people coming to your home.
Hope it all works out for you and your boxers :)


Boxer Insane
Honestly, I would find a different insurance company. Are your dogs really fighting or are they playing loudly? Our boxer will be playing and wrestling with our AmStaff and sometimes it sounds and looks like they are trying to kill each other but neither one ends up with more than a few gobs of slobber on them. We have had neighbors(who can't actually see them because of the fence) ask if they should be worried about them getting out of the fence. I told them they could observe them if they want and see that they aren't really fighting. If your insurance company is willing to drop because of the opinion of one person(who I seriously doubt has any experience/expertise with dog behavior) then it's probably only a matter of time before they find some other reason to drop you.


Boxer Booster
Unfortuantely, you are probably going to have to look for a new insurance company. Or ask your underwriter if they can exclude the dogs - meaning if there was any incident involving the dogs your insurance company would not be liable. Some insurance companies have this and some don't.
Every insurance company has to evalute all the risks involved in insuring someone. Unfortuantely, some risks are just to big for insurance companies and certain dogs/aggressive dogs are one of them. Based on these risks insurance companines form a set of guidelines in which they will insure someone. When someone no longer meets those guidelines the insurance company requires that the problem be rectified or they non-renew your policy. In your case your underwriter determined your dogs as aggressive based on their behavior when he was there. From what you described I can see how he might have formed that opinion - I might have too, even being a knowlegeable dog person. You stated yourself that they can be really scary when you are not home.
Bottom line - find out if they can be excluded and/or look for a new insurance company and definately contact a behaviorist. Any new insurance company will usually do a drive by of your home (they are required to have a pic of your home in file) and if they see the dogs being aggressive they will not insure you either.
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Gingers Mom

Boxer Pal
Are your dogs all the same sex? I'm just asking because my SIL has 3 males and they do the same thing out in their fenced in area. Out of the fence, nothing but excitement and slobber. My 2 ( op. sex) never act like that to each other.

I guess you really only have 4 options:

#1 tell the insurance co. to stick it.
#2 seperate the dogs
#3 get in a behavior specialist to work with you and the dogs
#4 get rid of 1 or 2 of them.

We had an insurance person come to our house a couple of weeks ago, uninvited and unescorted and he went out back of our property. I was livid when I found out that someone was trespassing on my property. He called us to tell us that our barn roof was in need of repair and it had "issues" and needed to be addressed. This is the same roof that Ron was ripping off and replacing. So I don't take much heed to someone that stupid who can't tell the difference between someone tearing a roof off and replacing and a roof that was rotting off with "issues". Our dogs kennel is right there off that barn. I know that my dogs must have barked at him as he was walking around them but he never made mention of them.


Completely Boxer Crazy
This isn't really helpful, but when we decided to get Apollo, I asked my insurance company about liability because my home had no fence. My agent told me Boxers were ok but to stay away from the "black" dogs(Rotts, dobermans and pits too) because my insurance carrier would not cover me in that case. She said that they had a list of dogs that the insurance company deemed "unsafe or vicious" and that as long as I stuck with a boxer, that I'd be ok.(We have boxers 'cause they're the greates though) I do have to agree that your dogs attacking eachother is misplaced aggression and I am concerned for you all. Please keep us informed.

Apollo & Rocky's mom

New Mom

Super Boxer
I would find out who this underwriter answers to...a supervisor or manager and in writing I would appeal the decision. It would also help to get written statements from your vet and boarding facility giving details about your dogs personalities, temperaments and whether or not they've been neutered or spayed. I've recently left the insurance business after 30 years and can tell you that NO decision isn't reversible with the proper paperwork to back it up. The underwriter needs to cover his/her butt. All they know is what they witnessed that day and it is up to you to prove them wrong. You do need to approach the situation being civil and reasonable. Screaming and hollering won't get you very far. I now work at a vet's office and have given such a statement for one of our clients that was having insurance company issues. (with a lab mix, no less!)

In the meantime, I would shop around for another policy. Who knows? Maybe you'll find something cheaper.

Good luck and let us know what happens.

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