Dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S. According to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), nearly 90 million dogs reside in American households. Although dogs are man’s best friend, the old saying doesn’t apply to homeowners insurance.
Dogs bite an estimated 4.5 million people across the country annually, with many dog bite victims between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. If someone is injured from a dog bite, and the injured party does not live in the household, usually a homeowners insurance claim can be filed under the dog owner’s policy. In severe cases, the insurance company could pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of this, homeowners insurance carriers implement restrictions based on certain dog breeds, to help reduce a claim payout risk.
If your pet is on your home insurers’ aggressive dog breeds list and bites someone, your policy likely won’t cover you, and you could lose your insurance coverage altogether. It’s important to know which dog breeds homeowners insurance companies won’t cover while you are shopping for insurance or considering adding a furry friend to your family — so there are no unpleasant and costly surprises later.
Top dog breeds that insurers won’t cover
Dogs that are typically included on an aggressive breed or restricted breed list with insurance carriers may be prone to cause more injuries if a bite occurs. They could also cause more injuries simply because they are a larger breed. Due to the increased risk, some insurance carriers try to manage this risk by implementing a restricted breed list. Other home insurers may only ask about your pet’s bite history, and are not as particular about the breed itself.
A homeowners insurance dog list usually varies by carrier. However, the following dog breeds are most commonly restricted:
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd Dog
- Great Dane
- Pit Bull
- Presa Canario
- Siberian Husky
- Wolf Hybrid
If you own a dog that’s not on the restricted dog breeds list, you may still have trouble getting insurance coverage if your dog has bitten someone in the past.
What if your insurer won’t cover your dog
If your current insurer would exclude your dog from homeowners insurance coverage or would not insure you at all because of your pet, there may be alternatives to help you find homeowners coverage:
- If your dog is a service dog, you may receive an exception from your insurer to cover your pet.
- Train your dog to get Canine Good Citizen certification from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to request an exception.
- Find an insurer that does not restrict your dog’s breed.
- Ask your insurer to exclude your dog from the policy instead of canceling your insurance and find pet insurance that specializes in canine liability policies.
Insurance companies that don’t discriminate by breed
Pennsylvania is the only state that prohibits insurers from discriminating against dog breeds. If you live in any other state and are interested in dog-friendly homeowners insurance coverage, consider the following companies:
These carriers are known to write homeowners insurance policies that typically do not exclude certain dog breeds from coverage. That means you may be able to have your home insured without concern if you have a dog belonging to a breed that other insurers would deny coverage. However, if your dog has a history of biting, these companies still may deny coverage due to the pet’s known history.
How does your dog impact your insurance rate?
Owning a dog breed on the restricted list can raise your insurance premiums. Dog bites often come with high medical bills and court settlement costs. The Triple-I reports that the average cost an insurance company had to pay out for dog bite claims in 2020 was $50,425. Since many insurers believe restricted breeds are more likely to injure someone, they may cover their risk by charging higher premiums.
Frequently asked questions
What happens if I don’t tell my homeowners insurance company about my dog?
Failing to tell your insurer about your dog or omitting the dog’s breed could land you in hot water. If you file a claim for an injury from a dog that’s not listed on your insurance policy, the company may deny the claim, leaving you financially responsible for all medical bills and court costs. Considering that the average claim paid in 2020 for a dog bite is almost $50,000, it’s best to be upfront about your dog or find an insurer willing to accept your restricted pet.
If my dog is mixed with the breed of dogs that homeowners insurance won’t cover, can I get insured?
If you have a mixed breed that may include a dog from the restricted dog list, your insurer may still not cover your pet. In fact, your dog may not be insurable if it’s bitten someone in the past, even if it’s a poodle or a labrador. It’s best to be honest about your pet’s history and breed ahead of time instead of finding out you are not covered after you file a dog bite claim.
Can an insurer cancel my homeowners insurance if I get a restricted breed?
Insurance companies aren’t required to cover everyone. They could cancel your homeowners insurance policy if you have a restricted breed from the homeowners insurance dog list or if you lie about the type of dog you have or its biting history. If you receive a notice from your insurer that your policy will be canceled, you could apply for an exception by showing your pet is a guide dog or has Canine Good Citizen certification. Otherwise, you will need to seek new coverage with another carrier.
Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites?
Insurance policies may cover dog bites up to your policy’s liability limits, provided the dog does not have a prior history of biting others, is not excluded from your coverage and injures someone who does not live in your household. It is wise to consult with your agent or home insurer to learn if your carrier has an aggressive dog breeds list. If your dog’s breed is on the list, you can discuss your options with your agent and then make an informed decision that benefits you and your household, including your canine companion.