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Did you know that there are about 4.5 million dog bite incidents each year? According to the Insurance Information Institute, a dog bite claim costs approximately $44,760. Personal liability in home insurance ought to cover medical and legal expenses resulting from dog bites. However, there are certain breeds that are not covered as they are considered high-risk. And while we all love our tiny friends, knowing about home insurance breed restrictions can help you make the right decision when getting coverage.
Common Dog Breeds Restricted by Home Insurance
Many home insurance companies have a list of restricted dogs. Most dogs are placed on these lists because they are responsible for a significant number of dog bite claims. And because insurance companies want to reduce the possibility of paying out costly liability claims, they restrict these breeds from home insurance coverage. Here are the breeds that are usually restricted:
- Doberman Pinscher
- German shepherds
- Chow Chow
- Presa canarios (Canary dogs)
- Wolf hybrids
- Staffordshire Terriers
Generally, most muscular dogs or those with thick chests will not be covered. Wolf breed dogs are also excluded from home insurance coverage.
How Do Companies Impose These Restrictions?
Home insurance breed restrictions do not necessarily mean that you cannot be covered. It means strict rules apply to you if your dog’s breed is on the list. Here are some of the ways insurers can impose these restrictions:
- Raising premium: If there is an increased risk of your dog biting someone, that means there is a high chance of the insurer paying out. To caution themselves, insurers increase your premiums.
- Refuse to cover dog bite claims: The insurer might agree to cover all other aspects of home insurance but refuse to provide you with dog bite coverage.
- Limit liability: The insurer may also choose to limit the amount of cash they will pay out if you file a dog bite claim.
- Refuse to insure you: Unfortunately, some insurance companies will outright refuse to insure you if your dog is on their list of restricted breeds.
Do I Need to Disclose My Dog Breed?
When getting home insurance, most insurance companies will ask you whether you have a dog and the breed. If you lie or fail to disclose this information, the insurer has a right not to cover related claims should your dog bite someone. That is because you went against the terms of your insurance policy. Also, if you buy home insurance and then get a dog later, you have a duty to inform your insurer. Otherwise, if the dog bites someone, your insurer may refuse to pay out. This applies even in circumstances where the dog is not on the restricted list.
Why are These Breeds Not Covered by Home Insurance?
The main reason insurance companies reject these breeds is because of liability. These breeds are considered high-risk. If your dog bites someone, the insurance company will have to cover the medical and legal expenses. So most of them would rather not take on this risk. Other reasons that can lead to these dog breeds being rejected are:
History of Biting
If your furry companion has a history of biting people, your insurer will exclude it from your policy. In other circumstances, you may be asked to sign a dog bite liability waiver. That means your insurer will not cover legal and medical expenses that arise from your dog biting someone.
Damage to Personal Property or Your Home
If the dog has damaged your personal items, home structures, or furniture in the past, the insurer may choose not to insure you.
What to Do if You Own a Restricted Dog Breed
If you own a restricted dog breed, there is no need to panic that you cannot get home insurance coverage. While you may have a bigger task, it is possible to be insured. Here are a few ideas.
Insurance companies are different. While some may outrightly refuse to give you coverage, others don’t mind taking on the risk. As such, shop around for such companies. Check whether the company accepts your breed. If they do, what rules apply? For instance, some might charge you a higher premium. Look around and find at least three companies willing to accommodate your dog. Then go ahead and compare prices to find one with favorable rates.
Get Canine Liability Policy
The canine liability policy is very different from pet insurance. So do not confuse the two. With a canine liability policy, you do not have to spend hours looking for a company that accepts your breed. The policy provides coverage when your dog attacks and bites someone. However, this policy is bought separately from your home insurance policy. Again, shop around for this policy to find one that suits you.
Get Umbrella Liability Policy
You can also get coverage through an umbrella liability policy. This is additional liability coverage that you can add to your home insurance. Ask your insurance provider whether it is possible to include your dog. The cost for umbrella insurance varies with different insurance providers and will also depend on the coverage amount you choose.
Ask for an Exception
Some insurance providers are willing to exempt certain dogs from this rule. Your dog will have to complete a 10-step test with a professional evaluator present, to qualify for such exemptions. If your dog passes the test, it is given a Canine Good Citizen award. You can train your dog for the test first to increase the chances of it doing well.
Once your dog passes, it will be given a certificate to show that it obeys commands. Such accreditation may persuade your insurance provider to include your dog in your home coverage.
Exclude the Dog
If your efforts to have your dog included in your coverage do not bear fruit, you can have the dog excluded from the policy. However, this is a dangerous game to play, especially if you know your dog is not the friendly type. If your dog injures another person, you may be looking at out-of-pocket costs ranging from $500 to $50,000.
Do I Need to Add My Dog to My Home Insurance?
Not really. If the home insurance breed restrictions are too severe, you can exclude your dog from your home insurance policy. But while it may not be compulsory, it is wise to find a company that will accept your breed.
If something happens, such as your dog biting someone or destroying property, you will be financially responsible for those expenses. A rip on your couch may only cost you several hundred dollars. But an injury to a person will cost you thousands.
Protecting Yourself and Your Dogs
Most dog bites are often a reaction to fear. And even if you claim your dog to be the calmest and sweetest, you cannot always predict its reaction to most situations. As a dog owner, you need to take your liability very seriously. It is very easy for a dog bite to dent your wallet if you do not have proper coverage.
Take the right action to protect your dog and reduce the possibility of it harming other people or property. Dog training is very effective in avoiding bad situations. Teach your dog that you are in charge and it should obey you.
While at it, try and avoid situations that can trigger your dog to be aggressive or fearful. That can mean saying no to kids who might be running towards your dog to pet it. That is not better than having to deal with the consequences. You can also consider muzzling the dog whenever you are taking it for a walk. Note that this is not a full-proof solution as incidents can still occur around your property. Your best solution is to find a company ready to accommodate your dog, even if it is a restricted breed.
What about Dogs Mixed With the Breeds Restricted by the Insurance Company?
If you own a mixed breed where one of the breeds is restricted by the insurance company, your insurer might still not insure you. It is important to be honest with your insurance company about the dog breed. The last thing you want is to find that your dog is not covered when filing a dog bite claim.
Can an Insurance Provider Cancel a Policy if You Get a Restricted Breed?
Yes, they can. Insurance companies are not mandated to cover everyone. They reserve the right to serve who they want. So they can cancel your home insurance if you get a restricted breed. Do not be surprised if you are notified that your policy has been canceled because of home insurance breed restrictions. However, you can apply to be exempted from this rule if your dog has proven to be well behaved.
Protect Yourself Against Liabilities
By now, you are aware of whether home insurance breed restrictions apply to you and your furry friend. You also know how you can overcome this hurdle. With that in mind, allow Onit Home to find you a home insurance coverage that will include your dog. Our insurance brokers will be more than happy to help you find adequate liability coverage for your dog. Contact us today at 1-833-433-0331.