Your next-door neighbor’s yippy Bijon Frise — who clearly has a serious Napoleon complex and a seemingly endless desire to draw blood from people’s ankles — may be far more likely to bite someone than your cuddly Pit Bull, but that doesn’t mean your insurance company cares. If you own one of the 11 “riskiest” dog breeds — which include Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinschers — you may face some big homeowner’s or renter’s insurance headaches, even if the only things your pup has ever taken a bite of are his Alpo and bone.
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.
For homeowners and renters, this can mean headaches. “The insurance company may just deny you homeowners’ or renters’ coverage because of your dog,” says Dori Einhorn, the owner of the Einhorn Insurance Agency, which provides dog liability insurance nationwide, in San Diego. This means you’ll have to go find a carrier that will cover your dog — and that could cost more. Furthermore, since multi-policy discounts for homeowners and auto insurance depend on having both policies with the same company, this could mean you now need to change auto insurers as well, McCarthy says. Other insurance companies may still extend coverage to you but will charge you a higher premium for it, McCarthy adds. And while some people try to skirt this issue by not telling their insurance company about a new dog, this is risky. “If something does happen with your dog in your home and you didn’t disclose this information, the insurance company may deny your claim,” Einhorn says. “That could cost you thousands and it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Of course, the rules on which dogs an insurance company will cover and which they won’t vary from company to company — and some companies will cover almost any dog. But as a general rule, insurance companies tend to resist covering these 11 types of dogs — or any mix of these breeds — most often, says Einhorn.
- Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Presa Canarios
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Siberian Huskies
(Note: Insurance companies tend to deny coverage for the first four breeds on this list most often, experts say.)
To avoid insurance problems, ask your insurance agent about the breed you’re considering before you buy him or her. Furthermore, “if it’s a rescue dog, find out if it has a biting history or was abused,” McCarthy says — once a dog injures someone in your home, you risk getting your coverage dropped.
Bottom line: This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get a pit bull — those little guys can be pretty darn lovable! — or another kind of “risky” dog, but you should call your insurance agent to find out whether they cover the breed, and if not, what it will cost to get a homeowners or renters with a company that does.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.