Don’t Let Your Home Insurance Go to the Dogs

Dogs are playful, affectionate, loyal, protective – and sometimes a major problem for home insurance providers. While home insurance generally covers dog-related incidents, such as bites and attacks, insurers have gotten savvy about various “problem” breeds and have responded by either restricting home insurance coverage or denying it altogether. Policies vary from company to company and state to state, making for a complicated situation that demands the attention of every dog-loving homeowner.

The Problem with Dogs

According to the American Humane Society, approximately 39% of American households have one or more dogs. While most are friendly to strangers, unpredictable stimulus can agitate them and cause them to bite. Dog bites account for a shocking third of all home insurance claims. Per the Insurance Information Institute, home insurance providers paid out almost $400 million dollars in dog-related claims expenses in 2008.

Home Insurance Coverage

Under normal circumstances, most home insurance policies cover incidents that involve a policy holder’s dog. Before a policy is sold, however, most if not all home insurance providers will want to know as much as possible about the family dog, and whether it has a history of aggressive behavior. If there are biting incidents in your dog’s past, you may have to sign a waiver releasing the home insurance provider from responsibility for expenses related to bites. You may be able to get dog insurance or comprehensive pet insurance to cover yourself, whether in the form of a specific dog insurance or pet insurance policy or a supplemental rider.

Its also important to remember that laws concerning pet-owner liability vary from state to state. If state law places sole responsibility on the dog owner then home insurance providers may stipulate that their policy won’t cover any expenses related to a dog bite.

Targeted Dog Breeds

Owners of certain dog breeds need to be especially attentive to their dog and its impact on their home insurance policy. Many insurance providers have identified the following breeds as being statistically more aggressive and problematic than others:

  • Akitas
  • Boxers
  • Wolves and wolf-hybrids
  • Chow-Chows
  • Pit Bulls
  • Rottweilers
  • Malamutes
  • Dobermans
  • German Shepherds
  • Presa Canario
  • Siberian Husky

While getting a dog is a wonderful experience for millions of Americans, it does not come without risks and responsibilities that need to be thought through beforehand. In most cases, proper training and preventative steps, such as fencing in the yard, will go a long way to keeping the peace.

Do you think it’s fair to discriminate against certain dog breeds?