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Homeowners Insurance and Dog Breed Restrictions

When you own your home, your dog is often the first line of defense when an intruder sets their sights on your house. Some dog breeds scare them off with one look. That helps protect you and your property. It may not help when you're trying to get liability coverage. Some homeowners insurance companies are likely to include dog breed restrictions in the conditions of their insurance agreements.

Check out dog breed restrictions in your policy and state law to see if your best friend's breed affects your homeowner's insurance. Their breed may deny you homeowner liability insurance.

Which Breeds are Restricted?

Your insurance policy determines what breeds your insurance company does not cover. That is because your insurance policy from home insurance companies is a contract.

Your contract itself, an addendum, or a third-party list shows the breed restrictions. Insurers create their breed lists from a variety of different sources. Insurance companies look at government data, private studies, or breeds attacking others on the news. In 2021 dog bite liability cases cost homeowner insurance companies $881 million in settlements. That same year the average cost of payments for a dog attack was $49,025 according to the Insurance Information Institute. As a result, insurance companies refuse coverage on dog breeds they think will cause dog-related injuries.

Dog breed restrictions are not limited to American Kennel Club purebred animal lists. Mixed-breeds with a restricted breed in the dog's DNA exclude coverage too. Homeowners policies, or renters insurance policies, may refer to dog breed restrictions by a variety of different terms, such as:

  • Excluded breeds (otherwise known as exclusions)
  • Aggressive dogs
  • Dangerous dogs
  • Prohibited breeds
  • Banned dog breeds
  • Restricted dog breeds

Some common breeds of dog an insurance carrier denies home insurance policy coverage for may include:

  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd
  • Bull Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Presa Canario
  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Wolf Hybrid
  • Mastiff
  • Boxer
  • Siberian Husky

As dog owners know, a dog's breed on this list does not make their pet a dangerous dog. If your four-legged pal is there, it means that particular insurance company believes the breed is a liability. They look at the average cost of payouts and the number of dog bite claims and personal injury cases filed on that breed.

Solutions for Homeowner Policy and Liability Insurance Coverage

Not all insurers discriminate between dog breeds. Some homeowners insurance covers all dogs. If your homeowner insurance coverage denies your best friend, get an insurance agent to find one that covers them.

You may also want to consider buying animal liability insurance from another company. You may have higher premiums, but coverage will follow your pooch. This includes coverage for any medical bills or property damage he causes.

You can also see if your state law has limited your insurer's ability to enact dog breed restrictions. If they have, then even if your policy says Fido is not covered, it may be worth reporting to your state insurance commissioner.

State Laws Limiting Breed Restrictions

Some states have laws that prevent dog breed restrictions in homeowner insurance coverage. Insurance coverage issues are generally resolved by contract law. Courts look at the policy terms. However, states do regulate insurance companies. It is important to their citizen's public interest.

Critics say breed discrimination is inaccurate and unclear since the type of dog is difficult to determine. This is especially true for mixed-breed dogs. Some states, like Michigan, Illinois, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania agree. They have laws that prevent dog breed restrictions in homeowners insurance coverage.

Other states prohibit municipal breed bans on a city level. This is to combat breed-specific legislation. It means a state does not allow a city to ban specific breeds. Arizona and Connecticut are two states to do this.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) federally prohibits dog breed surcharges for assistance animals. That law applies to homeowner insurance and renters insurance.

Get a Case Review by an Injury Attorney

Your dog protects you and your home. Your insurance coverage should too. So, if Fido's breed makes it difficult to get homeowners insurance coverage, don't give up hope. Contact a personal injury lawyer to help guide you on your options. If you need help figuring out what your State Farm or USAA policy means, contact a contract lawyer. These attorneys can help pet owners protect all members of your household.

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