When you own property, homeowners insurance is an unavoidable expense. And unfortunately for canine lovers, owning a dog — especially certain breeds — may increase the cost. Here’s why: dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurers $US797 ($1,111) million in 2019, and dog bite claims are increasing, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
To minimise risk, insurance companies may charge more for certain dog breeds — or refuse to cover them altogether. If you own a “high-risk” breed, you still have options, though. Here’s what to know:
Editor’s Note: This information relates to insurance policies in the U.S.
Homeowners insurance covers dog bites
Homeowners and renters policies typically cover dog bites — if you don’t have a restricted dog breed — up to your liability limits. The liability limits are usually $US100,000 ($139,460) to $US300,000 ($418,380), and if your dog bite costs more than your limit, you will have to pay for the rest. (This is a good reason to buy a personal umbrella liability policy.)
Less coverage for high-risk dog breeds
As Money reports, insurance companies track which dog breeds have been associated with attacks — and possible insurance claims — so companies may adjust their premiums to reflect that risk. According to the report, most companies won’t insure these dog breeds:
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Pit bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
- Presa Canarios
Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Danes, Siberian Huskies, and wolf hybrids are also unpopular breeds among homeowners insurance companies.
How to find an insurer that won’t discriminate
If you have one of the “high-risk” dog breeds — or you’re ready to adopt one — the good news is not all companies will discriminate. In fact, there are some insurance carriers with a reputation for more leniency.
State Farm is one example. According to the company’s website, “any dog might bite, regardless of breed,” and State Farm won’t ask about your dog’s breed for homeowners or renters insurance underwriting.
ValuePenguin reports you may also get coverage through companies like USAA or Einhorn Insurance, but these insurers may charge more if you have a high-risk dog breed.
Here’s some more good news: If you’re a resident of Pennsylvania or Michigan, it’s illegal for your homeowners or renters insurance to discriminate against your dog breed. And other states — like Maryland — have pursued similar legislation.
There is no guarantee a company won’t cancel your policy in the future, though. Any insurance company may deny coverage based on your dog’s past or future behaviour.