People love their pets so discussions of dangerous dogs can be a controversial topic — but when it comes to insurance, it’s a costly issue. In 2014, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out – a total of more than $530 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The number of dog bite claims are going down – they dropped by 4.7% in 2014 – but the average cost per dog bite claim is climbing. In 2014, it was up 15 percent to $32,072 – compared with $27,862 in 2013.
Some insurance companies will limit homeowners insurance availability based on dog breed or dog history. PropertyCasualty360 has an article on the 10 dog breeds most often blacklisted by home insurance carriers. They say:
“The breed of dog you own could make it more difficult to secure Homeowners insurance. Insurers are hesitant in offering coverage to homeowners who own breeds and mixes that insurers believe are more likely to bite and cause injuries. According to DogsBite.org, more than 700 cities in the U.S. have adopted breed-specific laws since the mid-1980s, following the rise in popularity of pit bulls in the general population.”
Is it legal for an insurance company to deny coverage or otherwise discriminate based on dog breed? Yes, and the MSPCA explains why:
“The law does not prohibit insurance companies from discrimination based on breed. While breed-specific city and town ordinances have been challenged on constitutional grounds, such as due process and equal protection, insurance companies–because they are not part of the government–are not subject to these constitutional restrictions.”
Many insurance companies don’t have a blanket breed ban. The MSPCA cites several national insurers that will instead “… work on a case by case basis, considering the individual dog’s behavior and history, and may require a meet and greet with the dog and/or a Canine Good Citizen certification.”
If you have a dog or are thinking of getting a dog, talk to your insurance agent about the insurance considerations.
Here are some other dogs & insurance resources that might be helpful
- Insurance Information Institute: Dog Bite Liability
- Don’t let dogs take a bite out of your insurance: Tips for dog bite prevention
- Insurance and Your Dog: Tips for dog owners seeking homeowner/renter’s coverage for their dog(s)
- Dog Bite Liability Statutes by State For All 50 States & DC