Source: Psychology Today (Extract)
Posted: April 15, 2021

Three dozen dog breeds can potentially invalidate your home insurance.

It is an unfortunate fact that it may not be possible for you to have your favorite breed of dog and still be able to insure your home. Home insurance companies tend to try to avoid risks which might lead to costly payouts on behalf of their policyholders.  

When it comes to dogs, the problem is that they often trigger expensive liability claims against the dog owners. Typically homeowners’ insurance provides coverage for dog bites and other dog-related injuries, such as an injury resulting from a fall because a dog jumped up on someone.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that liability claims related to dog bites and other dog related injuries cost insurance companies 854 million dollars in 2020.. According to that same source, since 2003 there has been 163% increase in the value of liability claims as you can see from the table below.

In order to cope with these rising costs, many home insurance companies have developed lists of banned dog breeds. This means that the insurer won’t provide coverage if a customer owns that particular dog breed. Not all home insurers have official lists of restricted dog breeds, and some evaluate dog bite problems on a case-by-case basis in deciding whether to offer insurance to a particular owner. But among the insurance companies who ban certain breeds, the lists can be found within filings made by home insurance companies to the various state insurance departments.

Forbes Advisor analyzed the banned dog breed list from 42 homeowner’s insurance companies across the United States to find the most frequently banned breeds. These tend to include a number of dog breeds which have developed a negative image in the media — these are the so-called “bad breeds” that scare people, have a reputation for biting, and are large enough and active enough to knock children off of their bikes or skateboards. Having said that most people will not be surprised to find that Rottweilers and Pitbulls are in the list, although I was surprised to find that Boxers and English Bulldogs were there as well, since neither breed has a popular reputation for being aggressive.

A listing of the 30 dog breeds that are most often banned by home insurance companies follows, with each breed accompanied by the percentage of the companies surveyed which specifically named that breed as uninsurable.

For clarification, Pitbulls as defined by the insurance companies generally include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers or any combination of these breeds.

Other frequently banned dogs include mixed breeds involving the dogs listed in the table and guard dogs. Dogs who have a prior record of biting a person or animal or displaying what an insurance company employee might feel is an aggressive temperament, are usually also included in most lists.

These actions of the insurance companies have not gone unchallenged. For example a number of groups, including the American Kennel Club, the American Dog Breeders Association and the Humane Society of the United States, have issued a white paper, which has been sent to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, protesting these policies.

Given the current status of this issue, and since it seems to me that it is not very likely that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners will do much to change current policies, at least in the short term, it appears that all the average person can do is to be sure to contact their home insurance company before bringing a dog into their household. If you find that you may face a loss of insurance coverage because of your dog breed choice, you can always shop around for a different insurer, or perhaps consider a different breed of dog as your pet. After all, the American Kennel Club alone recognizes 195 breeds of dog and there is bound to be one of those which is not on the banned list, that can fulfill your needs for canine companionship.

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