Roeland Park considers changing liability insurance coverage requirement for keeping dangerous dog

By Holly Cook

Roeland Park councilmembers Monday agreed to revisit the city’s dangerous animal ordinance after realizing its insurance requirement may be impossible to comply with.

Currently the ordinance requires any resident who wants to keep an animal deemed dangerous to secure public liability insurance in a single incident amount of $1 million. According to a staff report Merriam, Shawnee and Overland Park require $300,000 policies, and Leawood, Lenexa and Prairie Village require a $500,000 policy.

The ordinance defines a dangerous animal as one which has bitten a person who is not a household member or killed another domestic animal. There are exceptions provided for animals experiencing abuse at the time of the incident and for animals defending a human being.

The council heard from resident Carol Hein and her efforts to secure the required insurance following an incident in which her dog bit the mailman. Hein said she has not been able to find any insurance company that would cover her dog after the bite.

“…I realized I was in a Catch 22 when I couldn’t get the insurance,” Hein said.

Hein said her dog was “not a dangerous dog” and that he was just territorial.

“I don’t want to have him put to sleep,” Hein said.

Scott Ferrel, an insurance representative with Farmers Insurance, told councilmembers he was not aware of any insurance company that would cover an animal following a bite.

“You can not get a policy to cover a dog after it has already bit somebody,” he said. “It’s impossible. No insurance company out there will do it.”

Ferrel said regulations requiring this type of insurance, which is impossible to get, did not make sense.

Mayor Joel Marquardt requested that city staff research possible solutions and return with options at a future meeting.

Hein said she would work with city staff in filing for a contingency to exclude her from the requirement while the council discusses how to adjust the ordinance.

The Prairie Village city council also discussed the issue of dangerous animals at their Monday meeting and is exploring options to add new dangerous animal classification within its animal control ordinance.