Having a canine companion is for many people a wonderful experience but for some insurance companies, it is a reason why they might want to take an extra bite out of your finances or even refuse cover altogether.

If you own a dog, you might get charged a higher rate or if you own a specific breed they will not offer cover at all, so here is a look at why they sometimes balk at providing cover and what you can do about it.

Bite is bigger than the bark

The Insurance Information Institute compiled information for the New York area in 2008 for example, that showed dog bites account for about one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims and totalled $387 million, an increase of nearly 9 percent on the previous 12 months. When you see these facts and figures, you begin to understand why insurers might be accused of profiling owners and trying to restrict insurance terms, but is that fair to discriminate when you consider the number of dog owners there are in the United States?

Dog ownership figures

Figures released by the Humane Society of the United States show that one in three households in the U.S owns a dog, which is about 39 percent or about 77.5 million in actual numbers. Out of this 77.5 million, there were an estimated 4.7 million bites attributed to canines and about 800,000 people who needed emergency room treatment. The insurance companies categorize certain breeds as being more dangerous than others, suggesting breeds such as the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepherd or Doberman Pinscher might be more culpable than others, but there are no official figures to determine which breed might bite more than any other.

The insurers view

To understand how you can get a fair deal and a good price for your home insurance as a dog lover and owner, you need to understand how the insurers put together their risk profile. Homeowners insurance companies seem to view dog owners as about as risky as teenage drivers and having a swimming pool in your backyard, working on the basis that if you dont have a dog it cant bite, being older than a teenager means you will drive safer and not having a swimming pool means you wont have the chance to drown.

Different standards

The point to make about this approach is that within each category there will be differing standards that need to be taken into account. The vast majority of dog owners take their ownership responsibilities very seriously and not every teenage driver is out to cause trouble, so the insurers should look at each case on its merits and reward good behavior over a period of time with lower premiums if there are no claims made.

Shop around

If you are a dog owner, you need to shop around for the best home insurance discounts that recognizes your responsible attitude and are prepared to reward you with a lower premium than some other insurers might offer if they just relied on standard criteria. If you take you dog to obedience school or join an owners group, tell your insurer about it as it could save you money.

Owning a dog is great fun and a way of life, so show your insurance company you care and you should be able to get a good deal on your home insurance.