70% of U.S. households have a pet, according to the National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association. Unfortunately, homeowners insurance companies often see some particular breeds of our furry friends as more of a liability than loving additions to our homes.
When you bring home a new puppy or adopt a dog from the shelter, your first call isn’t usually to your home insurance carrier. But did you know having a dog or even having a particular breed of dog could affect your homeowners insurance?
If you have a dog — or are thinking about getting one for your family — you may reconsider which breed you are getting. Insurance companies consider particular breeds to be a liability and a higher risk for a potential claim.
As much as we want to believe our family dog is different and would never hurt anyone, home insurance companies use statistical data to determine policy premiums.
Read on to learn the answers to these 5 questions:
- Why do dogs affect homeowners insurance?
- Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites & damage?
- What dog breeds are restricted by homeowners insurance?
- Are you covered for dog-related incidents? ● Banned breed: Certain cities and insurance companies ban entire breeds, so pet owners cannot legally own or be covered for that particular breed. ● Property damage: Depending on your policy and any exclusions, it’s likely that your policy will not cover damage to the structure of your home (such as chewing damage to drywall or carpet) or property (such as damage to a fence). ● Poor communication: Additionally, if you haven’t told your carrier about your dog or if your dog’s breed is not covered, any claim involving the pet will likely be denied.
- How do dogs affect homeowners insurance?
1. WHY DO DOGS AFFECT HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE?
If your homeowners insurance increased after telling your carrier you have a dog, you might be wondering why your personal choices — like the pets you choose to have — should affect your insurance. The answer is simple: your homeowners insurance policy is meant to protect you financially from any injuries that occur on your property.
Insurance companies assess risk based on the likelihood of an accident or incident. So, similar to having a trampoline in your backyard, your home insurance company will assess the risk of owning a dog.
With the amount of people (and property) damaged by dogs each year, it makes sense that homeowners insurance carriers are very interested in 1) whether you have a dog, and 2) what breed that dog is.
2. DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER DOG BITES & DAMAGE?
According to the CDC, almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and almost 1 in 5 of those people need medical attention.
Homeowners insurance policies SOMETIMES cover dog bites, but won’t cover damage caused by dogs. However, there are unique considerations made based on the breed or behavior of your dog.
In general, home insurance policies normally provide $100,000 or $300,000 in liability coverage. However, animal liability limits vary by company. From animal liability, exclusion, meaning absolutely no coverage exists should your dog bite someone to full liability coverage provided, be sure to check your individual policy.
What affects dog-related insurance coverage?
There are a few important variables that will affect your dog-related homeowners insurance coverage. They include:
- Breed of your dog or history of aggression, training, and behavior
- Insurance carrier (and their unique policies)
Do I have to add my dog to my homeowner's insurance?
If you’re hesitating to share a new pet with your insurance carrier, we encourage you to do so. While yes, you could avoid adding a pet to your homeowners coverage, it will mean you face potential legal and financial ramifications if a future claim is denied.
Remember: all pets — even the most well behaved dogs — can be unpredictable because they are still animals. If your dog does bite someone, you and your family could be left paying legal fees or hospital bills, which would far outweigh a minor increase in your insurance premium to cover your pet.
3. ARE YOU COVERED FOR DOG-RELATED INCIDENTS?
In order to ensure you have coverage for potential claims, it’s critical that your insurance carrier knows about your furry friend.
When will insurance cover dog-related incidents?
Once you’ve let your insurance company know that you have a dog in your home and they’ve been approved and added to your policy, you could have the following protection depending on the carrier:
- Personal liability: If your dog should bite someone on your property, this part of your policy will cover any costs associated with a lawsuit that person might file up to the maximum liability limit. Some insurance companies will accept the breed of the dog, but exclude or cap liability in a sub-limit for animals. In some states, you may need to find a completely separate policy that would provide animal liability coverage to protect your assets.
- Medical bills: Should that person be injured and need medical attention, this part of your policy covers any of their medical bills (up to the maximum limit on your policy). Like the liability coverage referenced above, medical bills could be excluded based on the breed of dog and the policy language from the insurance carrier.
When will insurance not cover dog-related incidents?
- Banned breed: Certain cities and insurance companies ban entire breeds, so pet owners cannot legally own or be covered for that particular breed.
- Property damage: Depending on your policy and any exclusions, it’s likely that your policy will not cover damage to the structure of your home (such as chewing damage to drywall or carpet) or property (such as damage to a fence).
- Poor communication: Additionally, if you haven’t told your carrier about your dog or if your dog’s breed is not covered, any claim involving the pet will likely be denied.
4. WHAT DOG BREEDS ARE RESTRICTED BY HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE?
We’ve mentioned dog breeds exclusions a few times already, so why does breed matter so much?
Statistically, there are certain breeds that bite more often and cause more injuries requiring medical attention. While this, unfortunately, can extend to breeds no matter the individual dog and their temperament, it’s important to know prior to bringing a new pet home.
That said, there are certain homeowners insurance companies that look at a dog’s history of aggression, training, and behavior, rather than breed. That’s why it’s critical to check with your insurance company and unique policy.
While every policy is different, here are a few breeds that many home insurance companies will charge higher premiums for or deny coverage altogether:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Cane Corso
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- German shepherds
- Great Dane
- Pit Bull
- Presa Canarios
- Siberian Husky
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Wolf Hybrid
In particular, the following breeds will have restricted coverage, exclusions, or even come with a recommendation from your insurance provider to exclude dog liability altogether: Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Wolf hybrids.
5. HOW DO DOGS AFFECT HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE?
If your homeowners insurance policy has banned or restricted dog breeds, you might be curious what will happen. Here’s what you might experience:
- Premium increase: In some instances, certain breeds will cause your home insurance premium to increase to account for increased coverage liability.
- Insurance exclusion: Depending on the type of dog you own, your home insurance carrier might choose to add an exclusion to your liability coverage for the dog.
- Coverage denial: Coverage denied at time of loss.
- Non-renewal of the policy: If your carrier determines a restricted breed of dog is kept at the property, the entire policy may be non-renewed, forcing you to find a new insurance carrier.
Owning a dog can add untold joy to you and your family’s life, but it’s important to understand the insurance ramifications.
If you need help finding the best homeowners insurance coverage for the best price, start by speaking to a SimplyIOA agent at 833.872.4467 or get a homeowners insurance quote online now.