Prohibited Dog Breeds – Animal Liability – Homeowners Insurance

America’s favorite pet – we all love our dogs but our insurance companies carrying our homeowners insurance may not.  In fact the breed of your dog may determine whether or not you will be able to obtain preferred insurance coverage for your home.

Vicious DogInsurance carriers are in the business of evaluating risk and publishing underwriting guidelines based on the insurance company’s appetite for risk.  Dog bite claims have accounted for approximately one third of all homeowners insurance liability claims during the past 5 years.

Insurance companies publish their lists of excluded dog breeds as part of their underwriting criteria.  The use of these lists is prohibited by a couple of States; the process is labeled as dog breed profiling by those States.  Another ten States have legislation pending that would prohibit carriers from denying insurance based on the breed of a dog; these laws may allow the increase of premium based on the risk associated with a specific dog.

Dog AttackIt is clear that these types of laws will not work; when a carrier doesn’t have the appetite for the risk, it would make no sense to allow the carrier to present a surcharge compelling the carrier to accept the risk.  It would not be fair to the insured customer base to accept such a risk and compel others to a higher premium for such a small segment of high risk.  Some insurance companies do not use a prohibited dog list; however, they simply exclude coverage for liability due to damage caused by a dog; this would be a better option as long as the contract holds the insurance company harmless in the event of a claim.

Although the list will vary between insurance companies, there are generally 12 breeds of dogs which appear on almost all insurance carrier lists: Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Presa Canarios, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, Wolf-hybrids, Bull Mastiffs, Great Danes and Alaskan Malamutes.

Although there are many dogs of mixed breeds, an insurance carrier will not accept any mix of the breeds on the list as well as any unlisted dog involved in a prior insurance claim or dog that displays aggressive behavior.

Many dog owners take the prohibition of dog breeds as a personal attack; this is not the case since insurance companies hire actuarial firms to research data relative to risk and produce underwriting rules and appropriate published premium rates in order to provide secure protection to the insured customer base.