Does Having a Dog Affect Homeowners Insurance?

Last Updated on October 2, 2022 by Andrew Lee

Nearly everyone enjoys animals whether or not they have a pet. The majority of American homes do, however, have a pet, usually a dog. If you fit into that group, your furry pal is very apt to be an essential and deeply beloved member of your family. Unfortunately, homeowners insurance providers frequently view your pet as a liability. Along with inflicting damage and chaos onto your home, pets can damage or destroy the property of the people who live near you, together with that of your neighbors, leaving you and your insurance company responsible for all damages and injuries connected to any incident caused by your dog.

It might appear to be a simple matter to add a pet to your homeowners insurance policy, but the fact of the matter is that depending on the terms of your policy and which insurance company you have, you may be forced to change your coverage. It’s even possible that you will be denied coverage because of the breed of dog you have.

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Here’s some information on how having a dog affects your homeowners insurance, and everything you have to take into consideration before making that decision to introduce a dog to your family:

Planning to Buy a Home: Keep Your Dog In Mind

In a case where you already own a dog and you intend to purchase a home, you’ll find that you must add your pet to your insurance policy when you sign up for coverage. If you are thinking about getting a dog once you have purchased a home, it’s a smart idea to go over your coverage thoroughly and determine if it contains any restrictions concerning the breeds of dogs that are covered.

Generally, owning a dog isn’t going to cost you a great deal extra, but when it comes to the matter of dog bites, you’ll be required to have the correct coverage. Think about this. It is estimated that the average cost per claim for a dog bite or other dog-related injury across the nation was $44,760.

Most homeowners insurance policies will provide coverage for dog bite liability expenses that are around $100,000 to $300,000; but owners are held responsible for claims over that sum.

The Effect of Your Dog’s Breed On Costs

Certain insurance companies won’t cover specific breeds under their policies because they believe them to be more dangerous or aggressive than your average dog. This would include:

  • Pit bulls
  • Alaskan malamutes
  • Siberian huskies
  • Rottweilers
  • Chow chows
  • German shepherds
  • Doberman pinschers

The rules are different depending on where you reside, your insurance agency, and the type of coverage you have. “Breed-specific legislation” (BSL) refers to certain laws that ban specific dog breeds in an attempt to lower the amount of dog-related injuries, but there is little evidence to support these laws having any real effect whatsoever.

Most insurance agencies will consider the dog’s individual history of aggression (or non-aggression) together with its training and behavior, instead of just its breed. 

There are some groups, among them the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), which are against homeowners insurance policies that are biased against certain breeds and strongly feels that “dangerous” dogs are the result of many factors, such as lack of proper training and individual genetics, and they shouldn’t be judged based strictly on appearance or breed.

If you don’t know for certain if your dog is covered under your homeowners insurance policy, or if the state where you reside happens to have specific restrictions, devote some time to reviewing your coverage and contact your insurance agent. In case your dog isn’t covered, you may want to think about changing to an insurance agency that doesn’t ban specific breeds.

How to Lower Dog-Related Homeowners Insurance Costs

1. Review your insurance policy — Prior to getting a dog—or if you have one already and are purchasing a home — look over several insurance policies to determine which ones will cover your pet.

2. Rules for every breed:

  • Always keep your dog up to date when it comes to vaccinations
  • Train the dog yourself or seek out training resources available in your community
  • Socialize your dog right from the beginning and include both other dogs and humans
  • Keep your dog on its leash at all times when you are not in an enclosed, private area, and this includes your front yard.
  • Be aware of when to take a step back if your dog is apt to be feeling reactive or defensive, particularly when it’s eating and sleeping
  • Don’t over-indulge in rough behavior and wrestling. Yes, it’s only play, but you are helping to bring out more aggressive instincts in your dog, so it’s best to keep a limit on such fun and games.

Breed Specific Insurance Policies

Should your homeowners insurance policy be one of those that contains breed restrictions, inquire as to what you need to do to be certain that your dog is covered. Some options are:

  • Raising your liability coverage — It’s possible that you will be permitted to keep the policy you already have and just raise your liability limit to include your dog. But this almost certainly means that your premium will increase.
  • Check out umbrella liability insurance — This kind of insurance raises the amount of your liability coverage to include both the present limit of your home and one for your dog.
  • Purchasing separate dog liability coverage — If your current insurance policy lacks the coverage you require, you may be able to obtain a separate policy specific to your pet and pet-related incidents.

There are many ways in which owning a dog can affect your homeowners insurance policy and you need to be aware of all of them. Usually you will be able to work something out with your current insurance agency and obtain coverage for your dog, but if there is a problem with the breed you’ve chosen, you may need to switch to another company. You always have options to cover your furry friend, so don’t worry, you will eventually get the proper coverage, you just might have to be a little patient until the details are worked out.

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