According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, roughly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States; roughly half of those cases are kids. One in five of these cases requires serious medical attention. If your dog bites someone, you could be at risk of exposure to serious liability issues. Because of this, people who have pets and want homeowner's insurance must consider some unique realities. Here's what you need to know about pet parenting and homeowner's insurance.
Why You Need Homeowner's Insurance
Forty-seven percent of Americans share their life with a dog. While it may not seem like homeowner's insurance pertains directly to pet parenting, it's important to remember that the insurance provides for more than just fires, theft, or damages to the home. In the case of people with dogs, homeowner's insurance also protects policyholders from legal liability that may arise as the result of conflicts with their dog. While homeowner's insurance is important for pet parents, insurance companies are becoming less and less willing to pay out claims related to dog bites, which means that homeowner's insurance is becoming more and more difficult for some pet parents to secure.
While homeowner's insurance may be a little harder for all pet parents to secure, this is especially true for people who own so-called "restricted dog breeds." While the AKC has defended pet parents to insurance agencies, saying that dogs are a natural deterrent for thieves, insurance agencies still have a long list of dogs that they're hesitant or altogether unwilling to insure. Their reasoning is that these dog breeds have the highest average number of bites overall. Insurers don't look at individual dogs or their history (which is often a source of contention for homeowners). Instead, they simply categorize certain breeds as being more dangerous than others. These breeds commonly include the following:
Insurance companies are allowed to question residents about the breed of dog they have. Depending upon which agency you're working with, it's not uncommon for them to deny insurance entirely, which leaves the pet parent liable for any lawsuits and medical bills that may arise as a result of a dog bite, or to require that the dog is muzzled or restrained at all times.
Finding Homeowner's Insurance with a Dog
Even if you do have a dog, there are many ways to be proactive about finding the best possible homeowner's insurance for you. Follow these tips:
- Build your dog's resume. One of the easiest ways to make dogs more insurable is to provide them with training and interaction that makes them less likely to bite someone. Certified obedience training, socialization classes, the AKC Canine Good Citizen program, and proper fences and kennels all improve your chance of being insured with your pup.
- Keep your options open. Small insurance companies are generally more restricted about dogs than larger companies. Companies that don't restrict coverage based on dog breed include State Farm, Amica, and Chubb Limited.
- Insure your dog separately. Even if you can't get your dog covered on your homeowner's insurance, you can purchase a plan that covers him separately.
While securing homeowner's insurance as a pet parent can be difficult, these tips could help with the process.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.