Homeowners insurance policies cover damage and injuries caused by household pets, but providers can deny you a policy or raise your rates based on your dog's breed. No matter how harmless you know your pit bull is, insurance companies may see your best friend as a liability concern. This article covers:
- How pit bulls affect your home insurance rates
- Pit bull friendly insurance providers
- How to prove your pit's good behavior
- Reducing the liability risk of your pit bull
- Pit bull insurance and umbrella policies
How owning a pit bull affects your homeowners insurance rates
Owning a pit bull can raise your rates, because home insurance providers view your pet as a liability risk. While all dog breeds can bite under the right circumstances, larger breeds have the physical capacity to cause more damage. That makes them a bigger liability to insurance companies.
Insurers know that even breeds that are traditionally thought of as aggressive can make loving pets. Nevertheless, there is a concern that your dog can be provoked into behaving erratically.
Homeowners insurance policies include a personal liability portion, which covers the costs of personal injury and property damage if you're found responsible. For example, if your pit bull bites someone on a walk or tears apart your neighbor’s flower bed, personal liability insurance can cover the damages. Due to this liability portion, your pit bull can raise your policy rates or bar you from a policy all together.
Our research on dog bites and insurance claims shows just how devastating a dog bite can be. The average cost of a dog bite claim in the U.S. was $36,000 in 2018, resulting in more than $673 million in claims. The severity of dog bites also varies state-to-state, which can affect the amount of liability protection you need.
|Ranking (lowest)||State||Average Cost per Claim||Number of Claims||Total Claim Payout (millions)|
|QuoteWizard analysts collected data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm® joint study on dog bite liability claims by state. Analysts looked at average cost per claim in each state and ranked them from highest cost per claim to lowest cost per claim. Additionally, analysts included total number of claims and total dollar value of dog bite claims in each state. See full rankings in our dog bite insurance claims by state study.|
Many providers restrict larger, stronger breeds like pit bulls, German shepherds, and rottweilers, due to their potential bite strength. Whether your insurance provider allows pit bulls or not depends on several factors, including your state's laws and your pit’s behavior history.
What insurance providers will allow your pit?
Insurer coverage varies on a case-by-case basis. Michigan and Pennsylvania have passed legislation that prohibits denying coverage based on breed alone, and there are more states planning to pass similar legislation. However, if you don’t happen to live in Michigan or Pennsylvania, here are a few providers that offer pit bull friendly policies.
- State Farm® does not require you to disclose your dog’s breed when writing a policy, and does not have any breed restrictions. State Farm considers your coverage on a case-to-case basis, taking your pit bull’s previous behavior into account.
- Allstate Insurance Company has a similar policy to State Farm. They’ll write you a policy that includes coverage, but it is subject to change if your dog misbehaves.
- USAA insurance policies will cover your pit bull if it has a proven track record of good behavior, but the company only serves US military veterans and their family members.
While State Farm, Allstate, and USAA are great options for pit bull liability coverage under your homeowners insurance policy, coverage will vary. It is important to shop around to find the policy that's right for you and your pit.
How to show that your pit bull is a good dog
By demonstrating your pit bull’s good behavior, you can increase your chances of getting coverage through your home insurance policy and also lower your rates. Here are simple steps you can take to prove your pit bull’s history of obedience and safe behavior.
- Earn the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate from the American Kennel Club. This is the best way to prove your pit bull’s good behavior
- Spay or neuter your pit bull. In addition to helping combat pet homelessness, evidence suggests that fixed dogs are more docile and well behaved
- Get your pit bull properly vaccinated, and take it to the vet regularly
- Enroll your pit bull in a training class
Ways to minimize the liability risk of your pit bull
When you own a dog breed with high bite strength, it's important to recognize the potential threat it poses to children and adults alike if startled. Here are some additional measures you can take as a pit bull owner to keep your dog happy and people around you safe.
- Properly socialize your pit bull. This will lower the probability that it will feel threatened by strangers and other dogs
- Make sure your dog is leash trained
- Refrain from roughhousing with your pit. They don’t know their own strength!
- Train your dog to drop toys so that when playtime gets too rough, your dog will know the signal to stop
- Do not leave your pit bull in the care of people it doesn’t know or with children. Children are more likely to accidentally provoke your dog
- Get to know your dog – understand its stressors so you can better avoid them
Extending coverage with pit bull insurance or umbrella policies
If you have exhausted all your options and cannot find liability coverage for your pit bull through home insurance, consider getting an umbrella policy or canine liability insurance. If you have heard people refer to "pit bull insurance," they are most likely talking about canine liability insurance.
An umbrella insurance policy supplements your homeowners insurance policy by extending your maximum payout and filling in any coverage gaps. For example, if your home insurance covers liability up to $100,000, an umbrella policy could extend coverage to $300,000. Then if a claim surpassed $100,000, your umbrella policy could cover the difference up to $300,000 If you aren’t fully covered, you would be personally responsible and the costs could be recovered from your personal assets.
Canine liability insurance, unlike an umbrella policy, does not require a preexisting home or renters insurance policy. As a standalone policy, it provides a wide array of liability coverage related to your pit bull. Dog bites can easily exceed $35,000 in medical and settlement costs, so an individual pit bull liability insurance policy is a great alternative to coverage through home insurance. Many smaller insurers offer these insurance products.
These policies can be great alternatives that ensure you won’t have to pay out of pocket if you're sued for damage or injuries that your pit bull causes. Whether you find coverage through homeowners insurance, canine liability insurance, or an umbrella policy, make sure you protect you and your pit bull with coverage.
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