Almost 5 million people are bitten or attacked by dogs each year. The Annually, insurers across the United States pay almost $485 million in dog bite claims. Many insurance companies try to limit their risk by blacklisting breeds that are known to be dangerous, meaning their owners have to pay more or don’t qualify for homeowners insurance coverage. While it might seem unfair, once you realize how much they have to pay each year, you can now understand why they are often suspicious, and selective regarding which breeds they will cover. One thing you should never do is lie about what kind of dog you have; also, if you adopt a new pet, you should always notify your home insurance company so that your policy can be updated. Otherwise, any accidents are going to come out of your pocket, as the insurer could deny your claim.
So which dogs breeds are deemed “high risk?” Insurance companies do have the right to exclude covering particular dog breeds from a policy. Some insurance companies will still provide coverage, but they might charge higher premiums if a dangerous dog is on the property. The breeds insurance companies believe pose the greatest risk of incident are labeled as “dangerous.” The dangerous dog category includes:
Pit bulls, rottweilers, chow chows, German shepherds, Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Doberman pinschers, Presa Canario bulldogs, Great Danes, boxers, Akitas and most wolf hybrids. However, some companies do not restrict specific breeds, but rather base the decision to offer insurance on the dog’s behavior history. Certain companies believe that other factors aside from the breed affect a dog’s temperament.
Sometimes a company will ask you to answer questions about the dog’s history on the insurance application. What they are looking to find out, is whether or not the dog has bitten anyone or if it has been trained for attack purposes. A prior dog bite incident will show up on an applicant’s claims history, which insurers check before issuing a policy. Some factors in things such as the dog’s age, gender, training and living conditions when deciding to offer a policy. Once a dog has bitten someone, the insurance company may charge a higher premium or exclude the dog from coverage. Companies can even make customers sign a waiver of liability for dog bites.
If your dog is considered a risk, be sure to ask about what you can do to help lower insurance rates. Consider putting up a privacy fence and spaying or neutering the dog to improve its disposition. You can prove yourself a responsible pet owner by enrolling your dog in the American Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Program. The American Kennel Club states that insurance companies are starting to use the Canine Good Citizen program to insure breeds they would not otherwise insure.
The bottom line is that even if you have been insured with the same company for several years, do not assume your current policy provides coverage for your pet. Insurance companies modify policies and coverage on a regular basis. If your company is not aware you own a “dangerous” dog but finds out, your policy may be immediately canceled. If an incident with the dog occurs on your property, the insurance company can deny your claim, leaving you responsible for the bill.