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Home Insurance: What to Do If Your Dog Is a Blacklisted Breed

Your home insurance company may assume your dog’s breed is considered an aggressive type and place them under an insurance term called a “blacklisted breed”

Homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance policies typically cover your liability if your dog bites or attacks someone at your home or apartment. Most standard insurance policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage.These standard insurance policies cover most dog bites and breeds.

However, your dog’s breed may be blacklisted by some home insurers. Many insurance companies may not cover a dog bite if your dog is any of the following breeds:

  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Presa Canarios
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Siberian Huskies

In general, an owner is responsible for any damage done by his dog, whether the dog is provoked or not. That’s where liability on a homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy kicks in. You’ll want to compare quotes from multiple home insurance providers to make sure you are getting the best liability coverage if you have a blacklisted dog breed.

dog on a leash with owner

Can an Insurance Company Discriminate Against Dog Breeds?

Legally speaking some home insurance companies do discriminate against certain dog breeds or dogs that have had an incident that involved a bite or attack that caused damage to someone. However, there are ways to get around your insurance companies restricted dog breeds list.

Foley says one of the home insurers he works with won’t extend coverage to a homeowner who owns a breed of dog that it classifies as “aggressive,” or a blacklisted breed such as a pit bull. That information is spelled out in the insurer’s underwriting guidelines.

“This insurance company will cancel coverage at the renewal date if you acquire an aggressive breed of dog and they find out. I recently lost a client because they got a Doberman,” Foley says.

With another home insurer that Foley represents, a prospective customer will be asked whether he has a dog. If that customer discloses that he has a dog, he’ll be asked whether the dog ever has acted aggressively or has ever bitten someone — no matter what the breed is. “If the answer is yes, they will decline the application. If the answer is no, the application is acceptable,” Foley says.

Which Insurance Companies Do Not Discriminate Against Dog Breeds?

State Farm Insurance claims on their website that they do not discriminate against dog breeds when setting you up with a renter’s or home insurance policy. They will not request information on which dog breed you own or restrict based off of breed alone. They understand each dog has it’s own personality, and should not be restricted by breed alone.

The list of insurance companies that reportedly do no discriminate against certain dog breeds include:

  • Amica.
  • Chubb.
  • Fireman’s.
  • State Farm
  • USAA

Deborah Becker, an agent for State Farm in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, says she gains a lot of clients from other insurers because State Farm does not refuse coverage based on a dog’s breed. The exception is Ohio, which has determined that the pit bull meets the definition of a “vicious dog.” State Farm doesn’t provide home insurance coverage for owners of pit bulls in Ohio.

Should I Get Pet Liability Insurance if My Dog is Not Covered by My Insurance Company?

If you don’t qualify for traditional homeowner’s insurance because of your dog’s breed, obtaining pet liability insurance is vital, as most states will hold the dog owner liable for expenses associated with injuries or property damage caused by a dog (with the exception of trespassers).

Pet owners who don’t qualify for dog bite coverage under traditional home insurance policies can seek liability insurance, which is available from specialty insurers. Pet liability insurance covers the cost of damage, injury or death caused by a dog or other pet.

How Much Does Pet Liability Insurance Cost?

If your dog is not covered by your home or renter’s insurance provider because of their breed, you may be legally required to have pet liability insurance in some states. Pet liability insurance normally costs $450 to $2,500 a year depending on a few different factors. However, there are other options for insuring your dog even if they are on a restricted list mentioned later in this article.

Which States Require Pet Liability Insurance for Restricted Dog Breeds?

There are 14 states (and the District of Columbia) that require owners of dogs that have been labeled dangerous or vicious (or, in some cases, potentially dangerous) to buy pet liability insurance – these states include:

  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

How Do I Get Insurance if My Dog is a Blacklisted Breed?

A dog owner may be able to get around their insurance companies blacklisted breed rule if their dog has earned an official AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate. A number of home insurance agents recognize the AKC Good Dog certificate as legitimate and the blacklisted breed rule will not apply to your dog.

“I have been approached by a couple of insurance agents whose companies are not issuing homeowners policies to owners of certain breeds,” says Chris Hamer, a certified dog behavior counselor and a Canine Good Citizen evaluator. “The only good news in all of this is that the agents that I talked with said they will issue policies if the dog has earned its Canine Good Citizen certification.”

Canine Good Citizen programs are run by the American Kennel Club. Other dog training programs may fit the bill as well. You’ll want to check with your home insurance company or insurance agent to find out whether this type of training can help you obtain home insurance coverage despite your dog being a restricted breed.

How Often are Dog Bites an Issue with Insurance

Each year, almost 5 million Americans are bitten or attacked by dogs. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites and other dog-related injuries generally account for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016.

That put the costs at more than $600 million.

An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the institute found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,123 year over year compared to 15,352 – which is an 18 percent increase.

The average cost per claim for the year, however, decreased by more than 10 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $33,230 in 2016, compared with $37,214 in 2015 and $32,072 in 2014.

Given those statistics, it should come as no surprise that homeowner’s and renter’s insurance companies are as vigilant about dog bite claims as a watchdog that’s guarding a house.

Simply put, a dog bite easily can result in a homeowner filing an insurance claim, according to independent agent Kevin P. Foley of PFT&K Insurance Brokers in Milltown, N.J. Even if it’s a minor bite — the dog nipped a visitor who tried to shoo away the pooch — the insurance company is obligated to defend the homeowner if he’s sued over the bite.

“Lawsuits result in legal expenses that insurance companies want to avoid,” Foley says.

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