How Can Dog Ownership Affect Your Home Insurance?

Arthur C. Kosieradzki - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneySeptember 04, 2015

Depending on the breed of dog you own, your home insurance coverage can and will be affected by dog ownership. According to a CNN report, “A number of companies are now dropping or canceling altogether the coverage for people who own certain kinds of dogs.” The report investigates the coverage dropped by American Family Insurance for one homeowner. When asked for a statement, American Family Insurance said, “We made the decision that there were certain breeds of dogs we would no longer insure, and Pit bulls are one of those breeds.”

But American Family Insurance isn’t the only insurance company denying coverage to dog owners. What’s more, Pit bulls aren’t the only breeds being discriminated against. According to the aforementioned CNN Report, Forbes Magazine did research regarding the top 11 “riskiest dog breeds” that have most often caused homeowners to lose insurance coverage. They are as follows:
     1. Pit bulls
     2. Doberman Pinschers
     3. Rottweilers
     4. German Shepherds
     5. Chows
     6. Great Danes
     7. Presa Canarios
     8. Akitas
     9. Alaskan Malamutes
     10. Siberian Huskies
     11. Wolf-hybrids

Dog bites have cost insurance companies nearly $490 million last year in the United States. As such, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while dogs are a huge part of a person’s family/home, dog owners just don’t seem to understand the responsibility affiliated with owning a dog as a pet – particularly one that belongs to one of the above breed groups.

However, breed discrimination and breed-specific legislation is slowly but surely becoming outlawed in states such as Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, and Florida. “Well, the family doesn’t necessarily have to give up the pet,” says Jeanne Salvatore, Senior VP and Consumer Spokesperson of the Insurance Information Institute, “There are a lot of insurance companies out there, make some calls!”

But why do these insurance companies yank home insurance coverage out from underneath dog owners so long after being made aware of a dog owner’s breed of choice? An insurance agent can come to your home in order to deal with a different claim altogether, see your dog’s breed, and then decide to drop or cancel your coverage. Since money drives all forces of the world, one can only assume that it’s the cause. “And again, they say [dog bites are] a third of all claims, so you know what this is about,” says one of the CNN reporters, “Money.”

To be sure, the balancing act between getting appropriate home insurance (and being treated fairly in the process) and being a responsible dog owner is certainly a delicate one. Certain breeds do have tendencies to be more aggressive, but that doesn’t mean that if they are trained and treated properly, they can’t function like any other loving, happy dog. It is both the dog owner’s responsibility to instill a sense of comfort and good behavior in their pet, and the insurance agency’s responsibility to provide coverage fairly. When selecting home insurance, be sure to have an upfront discussion with your agent about what kind of dog you own so as to avoid having your coverage suddenly stripped away.

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