This article covers Pitbull Insurance Cost and Renters Insurance For Pit Bulls. You know your pit bull would never hurt a fly. After all, he cowers when he sees the neighbor’s cat and hides in your bed during thunderstorms.
If your dog is one of a few specific breeds, however, he may create problems with the carrier of your homeowners or renters insurance, no matter how sweet he is.
There’s no question that dogs can cause expensive problems. Last year, dog bites cost insurers more than $483 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute, or more than a third of home insurance liability claims. Still, animal rights advocates and pet owners question whether these “blacklisted breeds” are really responsible for an outsized number of injuries, and if so, whether their owners should have to pay the price.
How do insurance companies restrict dog owners?
For most dog owners, insurance companies observe what’s often called the “one bite rule.” That is, the first time your dog hurts someone – if there is a first time – your insurance policy should cover the loss. The company may later drop your policy, raise your premium or exclude your dog from coverage.
In other cases, dogs aren’t presumed innocent. Many homeowners and renters insurance providers have restrictions covering certain dog breeds. Akitas, pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and mastiffs are often on these lists, according to Tony Payne, business development director at Maine’s Clark Insurance. Others may be included depending on the company. “Some companies restrict eight or nine breeds, and others restrict 20 or more,” he says.
The exact nature of the restriction depends on the company. Some offer partial coverage. “Generally it means that if their pet was part of a claim involving a bite that they simply wouldn’t get covered. They can get coverage for property and liability, but their pet would be excluded,” Payne says. Others might deny coverage entirely, quote a higher premium or request more information about the dog.
What should owners of ‘dangerous dogs’ do?
How owners of “dangerous dogs” should proceed depends on whom you ask, and on your insurance company.
“There don’t seem to be many exceptions made when certain dogs are excluded,” Payne warns. He does add that some companies will accept a dog with prior underwriting approval.
“If I owned a blacklisted dog that I had trained well, I would offer my agent evidence of the training and ask the agent to make a case to the underwriter for liability coverage,” recommends Dr. Robert Puelz, a risk management and insurance professor at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.
A Canine Good Citizen certificate from the American Kennel Club, or a similar program, can clear a dog for coverage with some insurers. Shopping around for a more dog-friendly company, or purchasing an umbrella insurance policy , can also help. If you simply can’t find a company that will cover your dog, consider a canine liability policy. These typically cover all breeds and can cost under $100 per year.
Under no circumstances should you be uninsured against dog bites.
Is it fair for insurers to penalize dog owners?
Even if pet owners are ultimately able to get coverage, many question whether they should have to jump through the hoops. Pennsylvania and Michigan both restrict breed-specific insurance exclusions,and animal rights organizations in other states support similar measures.
Maureen Linehan, media coordinator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a statement: “The ASPCA is opposed to the practice of some insurance companies to discriminate against specific breeds of dogs by canceling policies or refusing to write or renew homeowners’ or renters’ liability insurance policies if the homeowner or renter has one of the company’s proscribed breeds.”
Opponents of these insurance exclusions argue that any dog may bite if provoked, not just those with an aggressive reputation. In fact, research suggests that Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell terriers – three breeds unlikely to make any insurer’s blacklist – are among the most likely to bite humans.
The ASPCA advocates breed-neutral policies, which make coverage decisions based on an individual animal’s behavior.
Some insurers agree, making coverage decisions on a case-by-case basis. Others argue that stronger dogs like pit bulls and Rottweilers cause more expensive claims when they do bite, justifying exclusions.
And others contend that insurers, like dog owners, must protect their own interests.
“Insurance companies are in the business of accepting risk for an actuarially fair price. However, if the chance of a claim is too high, insurers will not be interested,” Puelz says. “Individuals who own dogs that have, according to the data, displayed behavior that creates liability for their owners do not have a right to buy insurance. Insurers should have a choice about with whom they conduct business.”
Make sure to have coverage
If you live in most states, insurers will consider your dog in decisions about your homeowner insurance, regardless of fairness. Even states like Pennsylvania have some loopholes insurers may use to deny coverage.
Still, whether you have a German shepherd or a basset hound, your dog should be covered. The average dog-bite claim cost $27,862 last year. Ensure that whatever liability you do carry is at least equal to your assets.
Owners can also protect themselves by preventing bites in the first place. Restraining dogs in public and introducing them carefully to unfamiliar situations both go a long way toward keeping you and your dog happy, safe and insured.
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