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TheStreet Open House

March Madness: Duke To Win It All

Okie; 10 -- Oklahoma

"There are also three pets named 'Izzo',' bringing to mind Tom Izzo, Michigan State's head coach, one named 'Pitino' (Louisville head coach Rick Pitino), 10 named 'Bucket,' eight named 'Hoops,' five named 'Rebound' and two named 'Swish,'" says Fell.

VPI, based in Brea, Calif., is one of the largest pet health insurers, but it's not alone. Other major providers include Healthy Paws, PetPlan, 24PetWatch, Embrace and Trupanion, among others.

Pooch persecution? Pit bulls and insurance

But it's not all fun and games when it comes to pets - especially certain breeds of dogs -- and insurance.

Tennessee's House of Representatives is considering a bill that would require owners of vicious dogs to carry a minimum insurance policy of "$25,000 for liability against any injuries inflicted by the dog."

The bill targets any animal with a previous history of causing injury or death to a person or other animal without being provoked. House bill 621 also says "any animal that belongs to a breed commonly known as a pit bull dog shall be considered vicious."

Some home insurers are also concerned, as dog-bite liability claims in 2011 comprised more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims. This cost insurers about $479 million in 2011, up 16 percent from the previous year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). The average cost of a dog-bite insurance claim was $29,396 in 2011, according to III. (See: " Man's best friend, your insurers worst enemy.")

Farmers Insurance, for instance, recently began eliminating home insurance liability coverage for dog-bite claims involving pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf-dog hybrids. Farmers isn't going as far as canceling policies, but it does want clients who own these breeds to sign exclusion coverage waivers. Policies won't be renewed without the waivers. (See: " Farmers unleashes dog-breed ban.")

Similar to Farmers, other home insurers won't include certain breeds in policies and say customers must sign a waiver that makes them responsible for any lawsuits or health care costs connected to their dog's actions.

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