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Owning risky dog breeds can affect your home insurance rates

If you own dog breed insurers consider dangerous or risky, you may pay a higher homeowners insurance premium even if your dog has never bitten anyone

Dangerous dog breeds and Homeowners Insurance rates

Insurance companies will generally insure homeowners with dogs, but with certain limitations. If you own a breed that has been historically violent or unpredictable, you may have to pay an increased premium even if your dog has never shown a propensity toward biting. Some companies will lower this fee if the dog has passed an accredited obedience school.

The Cost of Dog Bites to Insurance Companies

Dog-bite related accidents cost insurance companies over $1 billion a year, and, according to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites are now the single largest cause of home insurance claims. It's no surprise that insurance companies often balk at being on the hook for the costly litigation.

A study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) found that over a 20-year period, the following ten breeds were responsible for over 230 deaths.

Numbers of Deaths per Breed (1979 - 1998)
Dog Breed Fatalities
Pit Bull 76
Rottweiler 44
German Shepherd 27
Husky 21
Malamute 15
Wolf-dog hybrid 14
Chow Chow 11
Doberman 10
Saint Bernard 8
Great Dane 7
Source: JAVMA, Vol 217, No. 6, September 15, 2000

If you're already an owner or considering getting any of those ten breeds, you can expect difficulty finding home insurance coverage. Obviously, as you work your way down the list, it will become easier to find an insurer that's willing to assume the added liability of a potentially dangerous dog.

Dog Bite Liability Laws from State to State

Though it may be difficult to find home insurance at an inexpensive rate, it's important to consider that with coverage, you may be liable for your dog's actions. Some states have a one-bite law that essentially gives homeowners one biting attack that they are not liable for. Others hold dog owners responsible for all unprovoked incidents.

States with "One Bite" Laws:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

Some dog breeds are hard to insure or even blacklisted

Though Pit Bull and Rottweiler owners often swear by their dogs' loyalty, many may find their pooch to be utterly un-insurable. Be sure to research the liability laws of your state and contact several insurance agents if you already own or plan to purchase any of these breeds.

And remember, if your dog isn't insured, you could be held liable for any physical harm or legal fees that result from its actions. Even if you have to pay an increased premium, it's financially irresponsible to avoid getting coverage altogether.

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