The basic answer to why homeowners insurance providers are concerned about your dog ownership status is simple: because they are covering dog bite injury expenses in the policy.
Dogs are the most common household pets and among the most risky from an insurer’s point of view. Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year, around 900,000 require some sort of medical care as a result, and dozens of deaths from dog bites (mostly of small children) occur annually.
That’s why you will almost certainly see your premiums go up for dog ownership. How much will vary based on breed, the dog’s history and nature, and on which insurer you opt for. For example, you can sometimes get a lower premium if your dog has earned Canine Good Citizen status from the American Kennel Club.
Dangerous Breeds Can Spike Premiums or Deny Coverage
Your dog may be friendly, well trained, and have no history of biting or threatening any humans. However, insurers must go based on genetics to an extent in determining how far dog ownership will affect your homeowners insurance policy.
Any dog deemed likely to attack people or any dog that would likely inflict severe injury with a single bite, is likely to either raise your premiums or lead to a denial of coverage altogether.
Some of these “blacklisted breeds” include: Doberman pinschers, chow chows, pit bulls, rottweilers, Staffordshire terriers, great Danes, and wolf hybrids, to name a few. Everyone selling homeowners insurance will have a list of dogs they deem “aggressive and dangerous.” Finding an insurer that will cover your home, dog-inclusive, and at the lowest possible rate is the key.
Realize that a single dog bite injury can cost around $30,000. Pit bulls are the most dangerous dogs according to a 20-year study, causing around a third of all dog bite related deaths. Rottweilers are often considered the second most dangerous, due to their being able to bite down with 300 pounds of pressure.
Doberman pinchers are thought by some to “have a bad rap” since their high bite rates in the 1970’s coincided with high ownership rates, but they certainly are quite dangerous when they do bite. Great Danes are deemed dangerous mainly due to size, while wolf hybrids can have a “wild streak” in them.
It’s true that small dogs like dachshunds and Chihuahuas actually bite more often than many big dogs (though not as powerfully). And it’s also true that not all dogs are registered nor are all dog bites reported, which affects the stats. But such statistics plus common sense are the best guides that insurers must use in determining rates/coverage.
Finally, be sure to disclose your dog’s existence and its true breed when applying for homeowners insurance since, otherwise, you could be denied any future claim and be personally liable. Don’t forget about protecting Fido with pet insurance in all the concern about guarding against what Fido might do.
To learn more about both homeowners and pet insurance, contact Flagler County Insurance Agency in Flagler County, Florida.