Finding the right home insurance can be difficult if you are a dog owner, which is a bit surprising considering how many Americans own a dog. According to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 67% of U.S. households own a pet. Of those pets, more than 63 million are dogs.
These numbers show just how prominent dog ownership is in the US. So, why are home insurance companies giving dog owners such a hard time? We will discuss this issue in our article and provide you with a list of dog-friendly home insurance companies you should use.
Why Most Home Insurance Companies Are Not Dog-Friendly?
The reason for this is actually quite simple – liability. According to certain studies, dogs bite around 4.5 million people in the US each year. Additionally, one in five of those bites require medical attention and some of these cases end up in court.
It is estimated that in 2019 there were tens of thousands of cases of home insurance liability claims due to dog-related injuries, most prominently dog bits. Also, the insurance industry ended up paying almost 800 million in liability claims last year, just for dog bites and other dog-related injuries.
When you take these stats into consideration, it is not surprising that many home insurance companies don't cover dog bites and other injuries.
In addition to this, some home insurance companies discriminate based on the dog’s breed – they won’t cover those breeds that they consider “dangerous”. Other home insurance companies will ask you to pay much higher insurance rates depending on the breed or even on the very fact that you own a dog. Some may also ask you to sign a liability waiver for any bites that occur.
Which Dog Breeds Worry Home Insurance Companies?
There are several dog breeds that often show up on dangerous breed lists, which makes it less likely home insurance companies will offer coverage for these breeds.
The breeds that are usually considered dangerous by home insurance companies include: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky and Wolf Hybrid. However, some companies also list other breeds as “potentially dangerous”, such as Great Dane, Presa Canario or Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Animal advocates across the US are against this type of discrimination. They argue that these policies discriminate against responsible dog owners and fail to account the owner’s behavior and responsibility.
Additionally, these practices can lead to people avoiding to adopt these breeds out of fear of not being able to obtain home insurance.
Unfortunately, some states also have breed-specific laws that limit the breeds covered by home insurance. Others don’t have such laws or have laws that prevent breed-specific home insurance, although some of them allow local restrictions. Check your local and state laws before you decide on your home insurance.
In most cases, laws hold dog owners accountable for dog bites and other dog-related injuries. However, landlords may also be included in a personal injury lawsuit in those cases where the dog owner can’t cover all the damages or if the landlord was negligent.
If you are a landlord, your liability exposure can be increased if you were aware that a restricted breed or a dangerous dog was present and you didn’t take appropriate actions to confine or remove the dog.
Best Dog-Friendly Home Insurance Companies
While many home insurance companies have policies that discriminate against dog owners or certain breeds, there are a few companies that include blacklisted dogs in their coverage. According to MSPCA, these companies include:
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
- USAA (for military members and their families)
- Massachusetts FAIR Plan
It is important to remember, however, that these companies usually won’t grant you home insurance without any questions asked. They usually work on a case by case basis, during which they consider many factors before they make a decision.
For example, they will look at the individual dog’s behavior and history instead of focusing on the breed. They may also require certain housing requirements or certifications, as well as ask for a meet and greet with the dog.
How Can You Help to Reduce Breed Discrimination?
Although discrimination based on the dog’s breed is not something to be praised, it is understandable from the insurance companies' point of view. After all, statistics back their reasoning and show that dangerous breeds do bite and cause serious injuries more than others.
With that in mind, if you own one of these breeds you can help by obeying the local laws and making sure your dog is well-behaved.
- Obey licensing and leash laws
- Spay or neuter your dog
- Keep him/her up to date on all shots
- Socialize your dog to ensure proper behavior
- Try obedience training
- Don’t play aggressive games with your dog
- Don’t expose your dog to stress-inducing situations that may provoke him to react aggressively
- Make sure that people are aware of the dog’s presence on your property
- Teach children how to behave around your dog
- Know your dog’s personality and behavior
As a dog owner, you may struggle to find dog-friendly home insurance, especially if you own a dog breed that is deemed potentially dangerous. You may be denied insurance flat out or you may be asked to sign liability waivers or pay outrageous insurance rates.
In this case, your best bet is to get in touch with home insurance companies that don’t discriminate based on breed but instead access each dog individually. These companies include Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Amica, State Farm, Chubb, USAA the Massachusetts FAIR Plan.