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Understanding Dog Breed Restrictions in Homeowners Insurance

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Homeowners insurance is essential for protecting your property and protecting yourself against liability claims, but finding suitable coverage isn't always easy. Those who own certain types of dogs may run into homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions that keep them from getting coverage with some companies. If you're concerned about this problem, read on to learn which dog breeds are often excluded, and how to find coverage if you own one.

What dog breeds are excluded from home insurance?

Homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions typically include breeds insurers consider "dangerous." This label is often applied to breeds that are responsible for a significant number of dog bite claims.

Companies may impose homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions in several ways, including:

  1. Limiting liability coverage for dog bites. The insurer may cap the maximum amount they pay for a dog bite home insurance claim.
  2. Raising premiums. An increased risk of a dog bite claim means an increased risk of paying out for an insurer. To hedge against this, they may charge the homeowner extra.
  3. Not covering dog bite claims. They may still cover other types of homeowners insurance claims, but not provide any coverage for dog bites.
  4. Refuse coverage altogether. Some insurers don't insure homeowners who have a dog on their restricted breeds list.

Most common homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions

Each company has its own homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions list, but the following breeds are usually on them:

  • Akitas
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Huskies
  • Mastiffs
  • Pit bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers and related breeds)
  • Presa canarios (Canary dogs)
  • Rottweilers
  • Staffordshire Terriers
  • Wolf hybrids

What to do if your dog is on a restricted breed list

If the insurance company excludes the dog from coverage, the homeowner may still be able to get a policy. But this is risky. If the dog bites someone, the homeowner has to pay any medical and legal costs out of pocket.

People who have dogs on the homeowners insurance dog breed restriction list above may have more difficulty finding a homeowners insurance company willing to cover them. Fortunately, there are other ways for these homeowners to get the liability coverage they need. They can:

  • Shop around. Each insurance company has its own list of restricted breeds, so a homeowner may find home insurance with dog bite claim coverage through a different company. Check out our guide to buying homeowners insurance to learn what else to look for when purchasing a policy.
  • Purchase supplemental insurance coverage. Homeowners can buy a separate dog bite liability insurance policy to help them cover the costs if their dog ever bites someone. Because these policies are specifically designed for dog bites, there aren't any restricted breeds. However, this type of insurance is usually only available through specialty insurers.

Homeowners insurance companies without dog breed restrictions

Those who prefer to stick with homeowners insurance without dog breed restrictions should take a closer look at the following companies:

  • American Family
  • Hippo
  • State Farm
  • USAA

However, just because these companies don't have any homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions doesn't mean they'll cover every dog. Many won't cover dogs with a bite history, and some require further investigation to determine whether they'll cover the dog in question.

When is your dog covered by homeowners insurance?

Typically, if your dog isn't on your homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions list, it's covered under your policy. If you're unsure about what is and isn't covered, it's best to give the insurer a call to clarify before purchasing a policy.

Are dog bites covered under homeowners insurance?

Typically, a dog bite is covered under home insurance if the insurer knew the homeowner had the dog and it's not on the company's restricted breeds list or noted in any other exclusion.

If this is a concern for you, review the policy terms carefully and contact the insurer with any questions.

When is your dog not covered by homeowners insurance?

A dog isn't covered under a homeowners insurance policy if that policy specifically excludes it or lists the breed among its homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions.

Dog bites also may not be covered if the homeowner didn't notify their insurer when they got the dog, even if it isn't on the insurer's restricted list. If the insurer doesn't know the dog exists, they can claim that the homeowner misrepresented themselves and refuse to pay out. Always notify your insurer when you get a new dog, unless it's specifically excluded from coverage.

FAQs

  • You don't have to add your dog to your homeowners insurance, but you could face huge out-of-pocket costs if your dog bites someone. If your dog is on a homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions list, consider purchasing a supplemental insurance policy instead.

  • Insurers can and often do impose homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions, discriminating against breeds that have been responsible for a large number of dog bite claims. However, each company has its own way of handling customers who own these dogs.

  • Each insurer has its own list of homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions. These often include pit bulls, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids.

  • Dog breeds that insurance companies consider dangerous are usually those that are responsible for a large number of dog bite claims.

  • Insurance companies ask about any dogs in the home because if a dog covered by the policy bites someone, the insurer can be held responsible for paying the person's medical costs. This can be expensive, so insurers often exclude certain dog breeds from coverage.

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