Roeland Park council explores reducing required insurance coverage for dangerous dogs

A dog of indeterminate breed.
A dog of indeterminate breed.

By Holly Cook

Decreasing the required liability insurance for owners of dangerous animals from $1 million to a maximum of $500,000 was discussed Monday during the Roeland Park governing body workshop.

The updated requirement would give a municipal court judge the discretion to require a resident to purchase liability insurance within a range of $50,000 to $500,000 based on the severity of the incident.
Roeland Park defines a dangerous animal as one who has “Caused a bite injury, other than a bite that resulted in great bodily harm, disfigurement, or death, to any person; or Killed another domestic animal.”

City staff tweaked the requirement following feedback at a previous meeting from councilmember Michael Rhoades who suggested adjusting the coverage required on a case by case basis. Staff also found that the $1 million requirement was much higher than other Johnson County cities.

The neighboring cities of Merriam, Shawnee, Prairie Village and Overland Park require $300,000 policies and Leawood and Lenexa require $500,000. On the lower end, De Soto requires $50,000 and Olathe $100,000.

During a previous workshop councilmembers heard from resident Carol Hein, the owner of a dangerous dog, who had been unable to find an insurance company that would provide any coverage. An insurance representative also told councilmembers he was not aware of a company that would cover a dog after it had bitten someone.

At Monday’s meeting city assistant administrator Jennifer Jones-Lacy said she had found a few insurance companies that specialize in coverage for dangerous animals.

“It’s not your typical insurance provider, but you can get it,” she said.

Councilors said they would continue the discussion at an upcoming meeting.