Dog bites, either on humans or other animals can have scary and heavy financial consequences. Deborah Turner has developed canine liability insurance that covers not only dog bites, but many situations from – scaring people, tripping them or pushing them over, running in front of a car resulting in an accident and dog-on-dog or other animals.
The Canine Liability Policy can be purchased at www.dogbitequote.com in 15 minutes or less.
Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show. Deborah Turner graduated from Florida State University with a B A and risk management and insurance. In 1994 she opened Dean Insurance Agency, an independent agency, and his license at all states but Alaska. In 2012 she brought canine liability insurance to the market after realizing that the insurance industry did not understand dog behavior, resulting in the coverage being removed from policies such as for homeowners and renters. Hey, Debbie, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. So tell us a little bit about you and kind of give us your background. Um, I adopted men. Sure, snails are about, well early 2000 and he was personality challenged. So I started researching going to classes, taking classes with him to try and fix jazz And while I didn’t succeed, he did live out his life. Never injured anyone. But I got interested in the whole concept of dog behavior. Took more classes, got more involved with my dogs, began getting involved. Um, I was already involved with rescue at that point when I adopted him. But I ultimately ended up taking doing intake for the entire state of Florida for miniature schnauzers. Um, I went on two to serve Orange County Animal Service. Is is both the chair of the Animal Advisory Committee and the chair of the Classifications Committee, which was where we determined if a dog was in fact going to be deemed dangerous somewhere around 2005. It occurred to me that, um, the insurance industry and and I come from a kind of unusual background. I not only have worked in the insurance industry company side, but I have a degree in insurance from Florida State Anna Curie, the CPC, you are chartered property and casually underwriting designation, which is considered almost the equivalent of a masters in our industry. But it is considered the most prestigious, and they ask us to do research papers on subjects that we find where we find new information that the industry could use. And it occurred to me that as a whole, the industry does not seem to understand how dog behavior, how dogs were kept has to do with whether or not a dog is likely to injure someone. This isn’t just about bites anymore. It is about bites, scratches, nips, scaring someone knocking someone over. Uh, so I started a research paper to explain to the industry Wait a minute, you can’t label a dog like a car model and say this struggle bite, but that dog won’t, Um, ultimately, I was told by a person in the industry, I think people really need this. They don’t. Your research project’s gonna fall on deaf ears, and I think the public needs you. And so I turned around and started researching it from that perspective and found. In fact, people do need the coverage very often for many different situations, and not just the so called breeds that are dangerous before the little feet ever hit the floor. Ah, so that brought me to launching the first version of the program in 2012 and I’m now, and I guess version to where it is fully fully automated online. You can go from entering your dog’s name to having a policy and in your email and about 15 20 minutes. Wow, that’s quite a long way to come from Just starting The sound is as a research project it has. It is pretty much consumed my life for the less last few years. There’s so many moving parts. When you do something along, these lines have to have an understanding of the insurance industry. You have to be ableto to apply logic that other people Conceicao so that you can convince that one company that will let you try it out. And I’ve been blessed that I’ve had two companies. Great American was the first company, and now I work with Lloyd’s of London, and they put themselves out on the line. They are taking a huge risk because the general industry fills that This is not a new exposure of the canine liability that can be underwritten. And so I I am literally trying to prove them wrong. I do ask breeds, but the reasoning for that is if I can develop a database, that and the majority of the dogs ensure either have previous behavioral histories or have been labeled some breed, um, that people don’t like or think it’s dangerous. And I’m hoping if I can get enough statistical data that I may be ableto prove that it isn’t. Anyone breed out there roaming the streets, mauling the public. It is more situational. Or, uh, so many times when dogs air injuring people, they’re provoked. The victims don’t realize that they’re doing the provocation, and then the dog and the dog owner end up paying the price. Oftentimes, the dogs are are put to sleep is a result of a very innocent they are no. And I think we’ve all heard stories about that. And what a horrible outcome, right? For an animal that’s just acting on instinct and in a particular situation that you talked about and then have that end up being their fault when it really isn’t their fault, it’s It’s usually the fault of the people, correct, And in America, we have now put our dogs in the position where if I, um, hit your dog with the baseball bat, depending on what state it’s in, it darn well better turn the other cheek because if it tries to protects itself its home, it’s family by responding in anyway, considered to be aggressive, resulting in an injury to me very often the dogs are paying the price with their life. It’s It’s a bit more to request of an animal to be able to just turn and walk away like I would have Somebody was trying to hit me with a band. They are. They become primal. They react the only thing they have to protect themselves. It’s their mouth and they act accordingly. Yeah, that is really interesting because, like you said it there, if the state law or local law, whatever it might be, is expecting the animal to turn and walk away, that’s just completely absent rate of what any animals we’re going to do. I’m curiously through the people that have been insured by these, the owners, that you’ve ensured their animals. I mean, have you been able to capture the data? You’re talking about it and actually start to show that you know these animals, it was very situational and maybe save some. Well, there’s kind of two questions there. I I am beginning to develop the statistics e se it hesitantly because in the world of insurance, you’ve gotta have a lot of data. You’ve gotta have a lot of information to prove the theory. They don’t just listen to you. They want to see it in black and white on a daily basis. Um, the hardest part of this that I I never expected, was to almost daily have adults call me in tears literally crying our break down crying while we’re talking because their dog, the gate was left open, the dog left the yard. The dog ran up to someone who had a smaller dog hoping to play with a smaller dog. That action is misinterpreted by the other dogs and dog’s owner, so the owner will bend over to pick the little dog off up and oftentimes get scratched may be nipped in the process. And the dog that has your dog has simply gotten out of the yard. Started to try to play is now in danger of losing his life. Very often, it seems that animal control cities, counties, states, um, are allowing those dogs to live, provided the injury wasn’t extreme. They’re allowing him to leave, but they’re requiring insurance so to go to an insurance agent say, Hey, I just had a dog that bit someone. I need insurance. What most people are finding is a very dead end, because number one even insurance agents aren’t aware of the product. Most most insurance companies are not aware of the product, so they feel like they’ve been put in a in a black hole with no way out. The challenge for me has been making the public aware that in fact, they can solve the problem. And, yes, there is a premium that goes with insurance. My average premium isn’t around the 3 50 per year. Um, that’s a very blended rate. I have limits that go from 25,000 to 250,000 upwards of 300,000 are actually 300,000. The average claim these days is 40,000. So if the homeowners policy even has canine liability in it anymore, it’s being removed from a lot of policies. Homeowners condo association policies 10 to 10 its policies or the companies are refusing to write coverage if there is certain breeds of dog or, in some cases, any dog in the household that is becoming every day more of a challenge for people to secure the coverage. I don’t know that I saw that coming when I developed it, but I’m happy that it’s here to be able to help people keep their dogs. Yeah, I know it is kind of interesting. You know, it’s an area that I know I’m not really familiar with. Even with my own homeowner’s policy and things like that, I would honestly have to call them up or pull out the policy and see if if there’s some sort of coverage in there, Um what? What has been your experience as you’ve done this now, have you started to see people becoming more aware of this and any change that you’re starting to notice in the way that the home a homeowner’s insurance works? Um, not so much that it works. I think the big gap is between the entrance industry and the public. They have not done a ah, great job of making people aware, um, that the coverage isn’t in the policy. In some cases, people think it’s cool to just lie about it. Unfortunately, when they do that, they have avoided the policy. Um, because you cannot intentionally miss him, Messrs. Misrepresent information. To buy a policy, you have to be up front s So there’s a lot of issues that go into it, um, that companies were doing one of several things. They are eliminating the coverage completely, putting on endorsements that in that particular companies underwriting guidelines are dangerous. I was recently told by someone that a company has now added Chihuahuas to their list of dangerous dog would just actually appropriate, because if you research it, the three most aggressive breeds are docks and Chihuahua and Jack Russell. But because of their size, they can’t do a lot of damage, which is how this program is based. It is primarily based on weight. I do ask breeds that can develop statistical information again toe to prove that it’s not any just one breed of dog. Um, the other thing is they will specifically name dogs that are not covered, so two of your dogs could be covered in two of them, may not be covered. They’ll exclude coverage for those particular dogs for any number of reasons. Each company is allowed to set up their own underwriting and their own guidelines as to what types of homeowners are families or situations. They are comfortable ensuring most of the time they have to file those rules and regulations with their states. The product is sold in, so the states are aware that they’re making these changes to the policies. But again, um, they could decide they don’t want to insure yellow houses because they tend to be the target of, I don’t know, make something up like lightning, and they are allowed to make those. In fact, if you have a service dog and if they don’t include dogs in their policy, the fact that it’s a service dog does not make it illegal for them not to insure you, it does not. They have no obligation when it comes to eliminating the type of risk that they feel will put the other policyholders at risk, because there would be possibly more claims. Interesting. So walk, walk us through kind of, I guess, how coverage works, how how people go about this, you know, just to familiarize us a little bit worse, the process. So if you go to the dock dock by quote dot com website, there’s a big button that says get a quote. People are under no obligations to buy this policy. We aren’t going to send them 42 e mails. In fact, we’re not even sending any emails to remind them at this point and may eventually. But it would be maybe one or two at most. They would put their dog’s name in their email. An answer about 15 questions. Mostly, they’re dropped down questions. So there’s not even a lot of typing hit a button that says Calculate. And they will get the exact price of the policy that they can purchase. All four limits that 25 5100 and 300 are quoted. There is payment plans available, and those air quoted right there with that total premium, Um, the next pages name and address. The next page is a formal quote, and I tell people who were having to prove to someone that that they’ve got this coverage to take quote to them and show them what they’re doing so that they can get it approved before they purchased the policy. The there is some digital signatures that are required, but it’s not real difficult to do that. You simply click in the little blue box. It’s a signature. Type your name and they’re samples that will pop up and you determine which one you like and click. Add the next and final pages, where you select either annual payment or the payment plan you’ve been offered. Put in the credit card number and you’ll have a policy including a copy of your application and quote and an email. Three e mails. The 1st 1 will outline whatever the payment plan Waas and you have your policy in your email box and about. It’s a pdf, so it’s a standard format. The policy. As I said before, it’s not just about bites anymore. If a dog were to bite scratch scare trip, knock someone over, run out in front of a car, causing property damage to the car, injured another animal. Um, there is no deductible on the policy. It does provide on and off premises coverage, meaning that you can take your dog anywhere in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico. And this policy would still follow the dog. Okay, it must be purchased by the owner of the dog. Anyone can pay for it. There’s no no requirement. Its respects to that. And, yes, we actually pay claims. We we have had a couple of what the industry calls shock losses, which means that we paid a policy limit in one case and very close to it. And another one thing about this coverage is that it’s relatively new. Well, it is absolutely new in this format, the way it’s being sold and in the language in the policies. It’s very, very broad coverage. There is one primary exclusion in the policy, and that is, if your dog injures family by blood or marriage in insurance, most anything can be insured. If you can ask the right questions to determine which which risk is likely to result in claims vs one that is is not going to. If you were to have a claim, you would simply contact me, we would send it to the Claims department. This is unusual coverage, so there isn’t any. Let’s take a picture of the at the site where the incident took place and send you a check for the claims are investigated. What happens basically, is the claims department steps between three owner of the dog, the insured owner of the insured dog works then with the injured party. Sometimes people aren’t injured. They just sue. And they they step between you and the person who’s been injured. S o that you if their neighbors, that could get very awkward. If the insurance company is handling it, that makes it a little bit easier, I would think, and they investigate. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase any insurance policy after the house burns down after the car’s totaled or after your dog has injured someone. Um, I’ve had a number of people purchased the policies within hours of the injury. Um, and we won’t cover that. That is not insurable. You’ve made the decision prior to not to have coverage. So this is just like any other insurance policy in that respect, you know, I guess. I mean, this is interesting. The only question is gonna ask you. I mean, I know it’s dog liability insurance. Do you also ensure any types of other animals? I occasionally get a call for cats? I have actually identified a company that will write those. Unfortunately, the only thing I know about cats is that they’re not dogs. So the whole gets that the program comes from my knowledge of dog behavior. So I would have, too if I was gonna ensure ferrets I would need to understand would possess a ferret to I don’t even know if they bite, bite or scratch versus one that will bite or scratch. So I have stuck strictly with the canine. There are no breeds that are excluded under this program, except a wolf hybrid werewolf hybrid is not considered a dog. The makes sense. This is all very interesting. And I’m I’m really interested to see as your database starts to grow in in terms of the information and data. If if you’re going to be able to start to get back to those insurance companies and show them the trends and hopefully you can help better educate as to what the real risk is here. I have actually talked to several of the companies and said, At what point can I present data to you that you can underwrite this exposure canine liability and I’ve been told, uh, maybe try the next generation and you can call us 20 years from now. We’re still not going to listen to you, so I’m not sure that it’s right around the corner. Okay, well, this has been really interesting. W Is there anything else you want to share their listeners before we wrap things up? People seem to want to think that this is somehow different. What you’re going to see or what’s happening, or what I see happening is that homeowners, renters, condo, all of those habitation, all type policies seem to be moving further away from those things. They cannot identify what the questions are. So, for example, drones were covered under a homeowner’s policy. But that is beginning to end, and you will have to buy a separate drone policy. There’s a unique exposures you the peeping Tom thing, falling and hurting someone. And those wouldn’t be traditionally expected exposures under a homeowner’s policy. So this policy is the same thing. It’s just a stand alone policy. It’s carved out of the coverage and the homeowner’s policies. However, it is broader than most because you need to be very careful with the dog. The on and off premises issue at your home away from your home is significant because, ah, homeowners that renders policy may or may not cover you away from your premise. If your dog is under the care of ah, doggy day care and injure someone. You are likely to get sued for that. So you would not typically find that kind of coverage in a homeowner’s policy. This has been really interesting. W I really appreciate you coming on the program today. I appreciate you letting me spread my message. Thanks. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, joined the Air P A. 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