Dog, Home Owners Feel Insurers’ Bite

Dog, Home Owners Feel Insurers' Bite

If you’re looking seriously into buying a home in Hunter’s Creek or already live in the neighborhood and want to change your homeowner’s insurance policy to save some money, you might be in for a big surprise. Increasingly, insurers are assessing the risk associated with dog owners. Particular breeds might be a disqualifier, and not necessarily for the reason you might think.

The truth is, dogs do present a risk of liability, and insurance companies are expert in identifying and assessing risk to pay out as little in claims as possible. It’s just one more reason people have a negative attitude about these surety groups but it’s also a reality you have to deal with because you cannot qualify for or maintain a mortgage without homeowners insurance.

Bad Dogs or Just a Bad Rap?

Recently in the news, a man was turned down for homeowners insurance because he was asked if he owned any dogs and what kind of breed they were. His answer seemed innocuous: yes, he had two dogs, and wasn’t sure about one’s breed but stated the other was a mix, mostly schipperke (pronounced “Skipper-Key”). He was turned down even though this breed is small and fox-like. The reason, this is a breed that tends to bite and therefore, was not approved-of by the insurer.

“These days, companies offering homeowners and renters insurance are pickier than ever about which types of dogs they’ll insure and which they won’t, says Jeff McCarthy, an agent with Harrington Insurance Agency in Woburn, Mass. The reason: The insurance companies don’t want to deal with a potential lawsuit if someone gets bitten or hurt by your dog while they’re in your home, he says.” —Forbes

There are a whopping 77.5 million dogs owned across the country, according to the Humane Society of the United States. That means one out of every three homes in the nation has one dog or 39 percent of all households. Unfortunately, 4.7 million dog bites occur annually, sending approximately 800,000 people to the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That agency has an expansive list of breeds which it deems to be “bad dogs.”

Types of Breeds Homeowners Insurance Companies Dislike

Because of that growing list, some states have been moving forward to either enact “breed discrimination” legislation or are considering drafting some type of law that will barred insurers from turning down applicants owning certain breeds.

The American Kennel Club has even argued that dogs are a natural deterrent to thieves and therefore, insurance companies ought to give canine owners a discount. However, dog owners continue to feel the bite of homeowners insurance companies as rates for owners of certain breeds pay a higher rate than homeowners who do not have dogs.

Here is a list of the most risky dogs to have in the house and the breeds that might not only cause you to pay a higher rate, but to be declined for coverage at all:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Pitt Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian Husky
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Wolf hybrids

Now, the last one on the list seems pretty obvious, as would trying to get coverage if you owned a silver-back gorilla, but others simply have a bad rap. Regardless, it’s the insurer’s call and be sure to call to find out before you buy a home or try to change policies.