Ever heard the expression, “You can’t choose your family or your neighbor?” Well, let me tell you the story of Lunkhead Lou. He’s the new neighbor with a wife, kids and a family dog.
Lunkhead Lou looked normal enough but, after a year in the neighborhood, his true colors began to show. He never took the time to get to know his new community and didn’t realize it’s wrong to let the family dog roam the neighborhood unattended. What if the dog makes a mess in someone’s yard or, worse yet, bites someone? Lunkhead doesn’t give it a second thought. He’s indifferent to the mess he can cause and the dog hasn’t bitten anyone in 52 years (that’s dog years).
Well, one day the family dog gets loose again. The kids in the neighborhood started to tease the dog, and Scoffy had enough and bit one of the neighborhood darlings. Lunkhead Lou once again showed his indifference, and blamed the incident on the kids and neighbors for teasing Scoffy. If the community was bothered with the dog’s roaming, he thinks, they should have said something to him. Needless to say, the community isn’t too happy with Lunkhead’s poor attitude.
Let’s jump ahead a few weeks. Two surgeries later, the victim is starting to look normal again. Lunkhead Lou has been served with a lawsuit as owner of the dog, and learns he is fully responsible for his and the dog’s behavior. Attorneys cite that Lunkhead Lou is negligent for letting his dog roam the neighborhood and biting the child. The parents demand punitive damages as a result of his indifference.
Lunkhead Lou files a claim with his homeowners insurance company, only to find out he’s not covered due to an animal exclusion in his policy. In other words, he doesn’t have liability protection for anything stemming from bodily injury arising from the action of an animal. Finally Lunkhead is starting to get the picture. If he had communicated with his agent and reviewed his coverage, he would have been informed of the animal exclusion. He also would have found that there are other carriers that would have provided protection for him. Not all insurance companies have an animal exclusion on their policy. If he had given his community respect, he wouldn’t be in this predicament for sure. All of this could have been handled better if communication was respected and observed.
So what’s the moral of the story? Communication and respect of the community are always necessary.
Andy Gregory, co-owner and president of Des Champs & Gregory, can be reached at (941) 748-1812.