Got a dog? Make sure it's sociable and trained or you may be paying higher insurance premiums. Dog bites accounted for more than a third of all homeowner or renter policy liability claims last year, with an average claim of $24,840, says the Insurance Information Institute. Most companies will cover dog bites, but one free bite is all you get. After that, your company may charge a higher premium or exclude your dog from coverage. Some firms require a liability waiver or charge more for breeds deemed dangerous such as pit bulls and rottweilers. So be a responsible owner: Take your dog to obedience school, have it spayed or neutered (unneutered dogs bite more often), and keep an eye on children (the most common victims). If necessary, use a leash or a muzzle.
Joan Rattner Heilman frequently writes for the AARP Bulletin.