Dogs are one of the most popular pets owned by people today, considered by many as more than just a pet but also a member of the family.
Imagine owning a dog, trying to buy a home or simply adding a new dog to your family unit, and being denied homeowners insurance because of the breed of dog you own!
Believe it or not, it could happen in certain locations.
Many homeowners insurance agencies now have very specific rules about some breeds and even dogs in general.
If you own a dog or plan on getting one, you need to ask some important questions before you look for that home insurance policy.
Homeowners Insurance, Pets, and Liability
While you may not think that the pets you own have any bearing on your home and its insurance policy, that’s not how your homeowners insurance provider may see it.
Any kind of animal including dogs that are kept on your property can be a liability resulting in having to make insurance claims or even worse, facing a lawsuit.
Pets can damage not only your home and property but property belonging to other people that visit or live near you.
More significantly, dogs can bite people, leaving you and your insurance company liable for their injuries.
So overall, pets are seen as a liability by many insurance companies.
Why Are Some Dogs Looked At This Way?
Most homeowners insurance agencies recognize that people will have pets and there is a certain degree of liability risk that fortunately never comes into play.
Still, what some companies have done is single out specific breeds considered to be more dangerous and more likely to bite someone, at which point they refuse to insure customers owning them because of the risk exposure involved.
Breeds typically rejected by insurance agencies include Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Akitas, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and more.
What Is Breed Specific Legislation?
Unfortunately, these across-the-board restrictions are inspired by Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) policies that have been adopted in some states and cities that seem to punish customers and their well-behaved pets more than actually stopping dog bite claims.
BSL is a hotly debated topic today, with much research done suggesting that restricting certain breeds as opposed to just identifying and restricting known biters has failed to reduce bite incidents.
In many places where BSL is in effect and bite numbers have even increased; many feel this is simply due to bad media publicity of certain breeds when they bite, while bites from other breeds continue to be less recognized and reported.
Breed Restrictions and Homeowners Insurance
So what can you do if the beloved member of your family is one of those questionable breeds?
Start off by asking your insurance carrier if they have a dog policy and whether there are any breed restrictions.
If the policy you are considering has breed restrictions due to liability concerns, consider some alternative options:
- Increase Liability Coverage - If your policy will allow you do to this and pay a higher premium, increase your liability limits and be able to keep the pet, the house, and the policy.
- Separate Dog Liability Coverage - This policy provides essential liability coverage when your standard policy will not cover your specific dog and some may include coverage for physical damage.
- Umbrella Liability Insurance - Increase your liability coverage by adding an umbrella policy that may cover your dog.
Know How To Keep Your Dog and Your House
Dogs are an important part of family life and for many, their working lives as well.
For Texas policyholders and dog owners, the good news is that the state of Texas does not permit breed-specific legislation in any form.
While that doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally run into a homeowners insurance agency that frowns on certain dog breeds, at least you can usually find a way to remedy the issue.
If any of this applies to you, talk to your homeowners insurance rep about your dog and situation to find a suitable solution so you can get the coverage you need while maintaining your happy, canine-inclusive family!