Other insurers look at each dog individually and do not judge based on breed, Worters added.
“They are aware that even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when defending their puppies, owners or food,” she said. “The most dangerous dogs are those that fall victim to human shortcomings such as poor training, irresponsible ownership and breeding activities that foster viciousness.”
Neither of Reinke’s dogs has ever bitten anyone.
“They’re not even remotely close to being aggressive,” Reinke said of Lexi, a white female rescue dog whom he sent to obedience school as a condition of adopting her, and Tito, a black male with a white streak on his face and a white chest.
When The Star Press visited Reinke’s home, both dogs barked, sniffed and wanted attention for a minute or two before calming down and posing for photographs. Lexi seemed lazy, and sat on Reinke’s lap.
When he let the dogs out in the front yard unrestrained, they didn’t leave the property. Tito played fetch with a tennis ball.
Some insurance companies would take that into consideration when deciding coverage, but they don’t have to, which was the case with the Reinke’s insurance provider.
State Farm Insurance, which insures one out of every four homes in Indiana, asks each potential customer whether or not their dog has bitten anyone, said spokeswoman Missy Dundov.
“Based on that answer and possible follow-up answers, we then determine if they qualify for homeowners insurance,” she said. “We do not require a stand-alone liability policy. Either they qualify for our homeowners policy or do not.”
State Farm alone had 3,670 dog bite claims nationally last year and paid more than $108 million as a result. Among the top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2012 for State Farm was Indiana, coming in at seventh, one spot ahead of Florida.