Are you planning to buy a home at some point in your life? Perhaps you already own a home and you’re curious about what your homeowners policy covers. Maybe you’re looking to switch policies; or, perhaps you are currently renting, looking to buy a house, and want to base the choice of dog breed you buy based on your potential home insurance policy. Know that when you have a pet, you do risk of exposure to some serious liability issues should your pet injure someone, regardless of who’s fault it is.
Did you know that dog bites are responsible for 1/3 of all homeowners insurance liability claims? This is a daunting fact. Whats more, over 1/2 of these incidents occur on the dog owners property. Dog bite claims are up to almost $500 million annually. That is a very scary number, and it is only growing. However, you shouldn’t forego owning a dog altogether. Dogs, after all, are man’s best friend. They are a joy to have. You simply must stay up to date on which breeds you can and can’t have on your policy, and know some of the risks. You must plan for any scenario; after all, even the sweetest of dogs are unpredictable.
Pit bulls are certainly on the blacklist when it comes to insurers. In fact, many homeowners insurance policies will not cover you if you own one. Here are a couple of dogs that are also “blacklisted:”
Rottweilers, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Presa Canario, Akitas, Great Danes, and Wolf-hybrids are typically excluded. So, if an incident happens in your home with one of these dogs, you will be paying out of pocket; and the average dog bite incident will run you about $30,000.
Some insurers also exclude Boxers and English Bulldogs –– not exactly your quintessentially heavy biters. Others excluded any animal deemed “exotic,” in one case taking care to mention that it excluded, “Any exotic pet including but not limited to a lion, tiger or alligator.” Of course, pets with any history of violence are similarly excluded. An “Exotic animal” technically refers to every single parrot, too. And a “cross.” For example, any dog mixed with one of the blacklisted dogs. So what, exactly, is a pet owner to do?
For starters, figure out what your policy does and does not cover. Ask your agent to do the vetting for you, if you can’t find it on your policy. If your dog isn’t on the list of breeds but isn’t registered as a purebred and could possibly be considered a mix of any of the excluded breeds, call your insurance company to ask what you need to do to be sure your dog will not be confused for a “dangerous dog cross.” If you’re unhappy with your insurance company’s regulations, you may still have options. Here’s where you get to reap the benefits of a competitive marketplace. Dig around for a policy that covers pets.