Brought to you by Bennett & Porter Wealth Management + Insurance
It’s official: The United States is a country of dog lovers.
According to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, nearly 64 million households have dogs for pets, with cats a distant second at 42.7 million.
The popularity of dogs is hardly surprising. After all, they do have many positive effects on their owner’s lives, from the active lifestyle they bring about to the way they relieve stress and anxiety in people.
Still, one can’t help but wonder about the rates dog owners are paying for their home insurance policy—if they even have one. Yes, the dogs you have at home will factor into your home insurance rates.
If you’re planning on getting protection for your home and you own a dog or two or more, here are some things you need to know about dogs and homeowners insurance.
Dog Breeds Matter To Insurers
A standard home insurance policy provides you liability coverage. If a visitor suffers an injury while within your property–like getting bitten by your dog–your home insurance policy’s liability coverage will pay for that person’s hospital and medical bills.
Since dogs are generally perceived to present such a risk, it’s perfectly normal for insurance companies to be worried about your four-legged companions. That concern prompts them to take measures designed to protect their interests.
Some insurance providers charge higher premiums for dogs with a genetic predisposition for aggressiveness. Others simply deny home insurance coverage altogether to households with aggressive dogs.
In short, the breed of your dog will dictate your home insurance rates, that is, if your insurer would even consider providing you coverage.
Some dog breeds are more aggressive than others. As far as most insurance companies are concerned, the following breeds are on the restricted list:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd
- Great Dane
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Siberian Husky
- Wolf Hybrid
As restricted breeds, these dogs will either drive up your home insurance rates or get your application for coverage denied.
Preventing Dog Bites
Let’s assume that you were fortunate enough to get home insurance coverage regardless of the breed of your dog, and at a reasonable rate at that.
As much as possible, you should take steps that will help you avoid dog bite incidents in the future. While your home insurance coverage will pay for the bite victim’s medical expenses, the subsequent liability claim could cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket.
Worse, liability claims triggered by dog bites could also force your insurance company to deny you coverage moving forward.
To prevent that from happening, you should take precautions to reduce or eliminate the possibility of dog bite incidents, like:
- Spaying or neutering your dog to reduce aggressiveness
- Keeping your dog on a leash, especially when you have guests
- Not letting random strangers on the street come up and pet your dog
- Respecting your dog’s space, especially when eating
- Socializing your dog
- Signing up for dog obedience school
There Are Dog-Friendly Insurance Companies
Fortunately for many dog owners, there are insurers that don’t discriminate against dog breeds. These companies—some of them among the biggest ones in the industry—will consider providing coverage for any breed after taking into account the specific dog’s history and behavior.
It is also not unheard of for insurance companies to ask for a meet and greet with the dogs themselves for assessment.
To find out if the home insurance provider you’re eyeing is dog-friendly, talk to a representative or agent, and be as honest as possible about the dogs you own.