If you own a dog breed that insurers consider dangerous, you may end up paying a higher homeowners insurance premium — even if your dog has never bitten anyone.
Dog owners need insurance that covers bites because dog bites require medical costs and liability compensation.
Individuals mostly likely to be bitten are friends, neighbors and relatives. Without adequate protection, loved ones and the dog owner could face financial burdens.
Insurance companies generally insure home- owners with dogs. However there are certain limitations.
If you own a breed that’s statistically demonstrated to be violent, your premiums will be higher. Even if your dog has never shown a propensity toward biting. Some carriers will waive this fee if the dog has passed an accredited obedience school.
The CDC estimates that over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. 885,000 required hospitalization, and 350,000 required emergency medical attention. Over half of these incidents involved children.
Dog-bite related accidents cost insurance companies over $1 billion a year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites are the single largest cause of home insurance claims.
2013 claims paid for dog insurance liability alone cost $483 million. This is over a third of overall claim dollars spent.
The average cost per claim that year was $27,862. Many states had averages that were higher. New York had an average cost per case of $43,122.
California was $33,709. They also had the highest number of dog bite incidents at 1,919. Costs related to dog bites in California totaled $64.7 million in 2013.
Insurers have begun to seek ways to reduce their risk. So don’t be surprised when they try to get out of paying costly litigation.
Home insurance policies may exclude dog bites. They may also exclude liabilities for certain dog breeds. Or not cover dogs at all.
These exclusions often place undue burdens on society. Pet owners are forced to find a way to protect them from this risk.
While unfair for insurance companies to push these risks onto others, there are ways to protect yourself. Even if your current homeowners insurance policy has your dog on its dog breed exclusion list.
One way is shop around for a dog-loving insurer willing to cover your pooch. QuoteWizard can help find the lowest homeowners insurance rates on a policy for your dog.
Here's a list of the 14 dog breeds that appear on many insurance company exclusion lists. Your dog may or may not be on your insurers blacklist because each one maintains its own list based on their own proprietary risk data.
Most pet owners don’t assume their dog would intentionally harm someone. However, insurance policies exist to prepare for even the most unlikely events.
Having your dog attack, maim or injure someone may be extremely unlikely. Yet the possibility is there, and you should be prepared.
To assess risk, insurers look at data and set premiums based on what they see. They look at temperament scores by organizations such as the American Temperament Test Society.
They’ve found several small dog breeds have the highest fail rate for human interaction and aggression.
Despite these findings, certain breeds are highlighted over others. Often, this occurs because of the attach severity, rather than the overall number of attacks.
Another factor is the overall number of breed owners compared to incidents. An uptick in popularity for the pit bull could mean more careless owners adopting animals. Not that more aggressive animals being born.
Regardless, some insurers choose to only look at certain data when deciding on dog breed restrictions. 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.
A more recent study compiled by Animals 24-7 found the following:
If you own or are considering owning any of these dog breeds, you may not get coverage. Or if you do, it will be expensive.
Other breeds that may be on your insurers dog breed exclusion list include:
As you look, finding an insurer of a potentially dangerous dog may become easier. If you'd like to know how much it could cost, get a homeowners quote now and compare rates.
Though finding inexpensive insurance may be difficult, consider the importance of having coverage. Especially if you may be held liable for your dog's actions.
Some states have a one-bite law. It requires victims to prove the owner was aware their dog was potentially dangerous.
This gives homeowners one biting attack that they aren’t liable for. Other states hold dog owners responsible for all unprovoked incidents.
Some dog breeds are hard to insure or are even blacklisted. Pit bull and Rottweiler owners swear by their dogs' loyalty. Still, many may find their pooch to be utterly un-insurable.
Other states make it illegal to discriminate against breeds or exclude dog bite liability. Though allow insurers to charge higher premiums.
Be sure to research the liability laws of your state. Contact your insurance agent if you own or plan to purchase any of these breeds.
As a dog owner, your animal poses a risk for medical costs and legal liability. Even tiny dogs can cause disfiguring bites, especially on small children.
For an average, medium-sized dog, policy limits should be at least $300,000. This is for medical and legal costs separately.
Larger dogs require a higher limit. Maybe as high as $1 million to $3 million. Particularly if you own a particularly large or dangerous breed. Large coverage amounts can be added affordably through umbrella policies.
You’ll want to watch out for policy riders or exclusions that exempt coverage for the following:
As mentioned before, an umbrella policy is a good idea. These services offer coverage in excess of $1 million for cases involving liability. You may be able to extend your policy’s coverage limits with certain add-on services.
Pay close attention to exemptions in your “exclusions” section of your policy contract. As well as the declarations portion.
Look to see if dog bites are explicitly mentioned in your coverage. Dog bite coverage can be dropped as a result of a “rider”. Or as an amendment to your policy, sent at a later date.
If you live in a state where your breed is legally discriminated against, and your insurer won’t cover you, there’s insurance just for dog owners. These carriers were created to provide specialized products geared towards protecting dog owners in instances of liability.
A list of possible insurers can be found at the bottom of this page from dogbitelaw.com.
Policies generally cover spouses, relatives and dependents living in your household under 21 years of age. Anyone covered will be protected from loss. However, they cannot file a claim as victims.
People caring for your dog can qualify for coverage under your delegation. This makes them protected against dog bite liability if the dog bites someone while under their care.
These extensions can include:
If your dog isn't insured, you’ll be held liable for any physical harm or legal fees that result from its actions. Don’t be dissuaded by the increased premiums you might have to pay. Not protecting yourself from these considerable risks would be financially reckless.
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