When it Comes to Homeowners Insurance- Is your Dog Covered?

While a number of experts, animal welfare societies and local governments have concluded that no breed of dog is inherently dangerous, your insurance company may beg to differ.  Most insurance companies keep an unofficial list of “dangerous dogs.” If your pup is either a full or mixed breed on their list, you may face problems when you attempt to insure your home.  It’s frustrating if your dog’s breed makes the list, because you know your dog would never hurt anyone. And that may very well be the case. So why does this doggie discrimination exist?

The reason behind the list is strictly financial: Many insurance companies feel they can cut down on the number of dog bite incidents (a big source of insurance claims) if certain dog breeds are prohibited—or at least severely limited.  Insurance companies use a variety of sources, from third-party studies to recent media campaigns, to create their list. The breeds that make the top 10 can change from time to time as public opinion about breeds change.

In most areas, this practice is legal. However, both Michigan and Pennsylvania have laws that prohibit insurance companies from using dog breeds as a reason to deny customers. Several other states are considering similar laws.

The List

While each insurance company is different, these are the breeds common across most insurers:

  • Pit bulls
  • Doberman pinchers
  • Rottweilers
  • German shepherds
  • Chow chows
  • Presa canarios
  • Akitas
  • Mastiffs
  • Cane corsos
  • Siberian huskies
  • Great Danes

Insurance Ramifications

If you own a breed on an insurance company’s “dangerous dog” list, getting insurance will be difficult. Many insurance companies will deny you as a customer altogether.  Some companies may accept you and your pet, but you’ll pay higher premiums.  You’ll likely also have to pay a higher deposit and carry more insurance to cover any potential problems your dog may cause.

ID Your Dog

Getting insured and having the dog of your dreams isn’t impossible. The first thing you should do is to ensure you know what breed of dog you have, especially if your dog is a mixed breed or a rescue animal.  Ask your veterinarian for an identification. You can also find companies that will provide a canine DNA test. It’s not unusual for dog owners to be denied for insurance after stating they had a certain breed, only to learn later they had misclassified their dog.

Shop Around and Stay Honest

Once you know what breed or mix of breeds you have, be honest with your insurance provider. If you lie about the breed and your dog bites someone, your insurance provider may deny your claim—which could really hit you in the wallet.  When you’re shopping for insurance, some companies are more large-breed friendly than others. However, they may charge a hefty premium, especially if they advertise as “all breed friendly.” Be prepared to comparison shop among several different insurance carriers to find the best deal. Finally, don’t forget to tell your insurance company if you plan on getting another large breed dog in the future. Some companies may only be willing to accept one dog: You don’t want to bring home another dog home from the shelter, only to find your insurance company wants to drop you.

-From Realtor.com