High Homeowners Insurance Rates Double for “Blacklisted” Dog Breeds

aggressive dog

Man’s best friend has many homeowners insurance companies worried. Although the number of dog bite claims are down, the value of existing claims have skyrocketed in the last few years.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the value of dog bite liability claims increased by nearly 30 percent from 2011 to 2012 (although the increase from 2012 to 2013 was more modest at 1.2 percent). When taken as a 10-year average, the value of dog bite claims has gone up more than 50 percent.

As a result, homeowners with what are perceived to be aggressive dog breeds could see their homeowners insurance rates doubled, or even have their policies cancelled altogether.

Double or Nothing for Owners of High Dog Bite Liability

Dog owner Melissa Ashley of Winfield, Ind. spoke to ABC News to complain that homeowners insurance companies either refused to cover her home or wanted double the cost of her existing premium for coverage, because of her pet Huskies.

Ashley said, “It is upsetting to me to think that we could possibly be at risk to lose insurance.”

As upset as she may be, the statistics are against dog owners like Ashley. The III reveals that one-third of all homeowner liability claims were a direct result of dog bite filings. In 2012 alone, claims paid on this dog bite liability issues amounted to almost $490 million.

Homeowners Insurance Rates Soar for Owners of Dangerous Dog Breeds

According to Property Casulaty 360, an insurance industry news publication, many insurance companies blacklist dog breeds identified in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2000 report, “Breeds Of Dogs Involved In Fatal Human Attacks In The United States Between 1979 And 1998,” distributed to the public by the Centers for Disease Control.

The report identifies Rottweilers and Pitt Bull type dogs as the most dangerous breeds, in addition to German Shepherds, Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Chow-Chow and Husky-type breeds. The report is careful to explain, however, that classifying mixed-breed dogs makes classifying the dangers of any particular breed of dog difficult.

For this reason, some homeowners insurance companies take a different approach to setting insurance rates for dog owners. Companies State Farm and Allstate, for example, now disregard the report. Instead of asking about the breed of a dog, they ask owners about behavioral characteristics of their pet and any history of aggressive dog behavior.

Homeowners faced with cancellation or high home insurance rates because of their dog — even when the dog has no history of aggression — should shop around for the most competitive insurance rates. Look for companies that ask about a dog’s personal history, rather than its breed.