Dogs Affect Insurance Rates

24 Sep
Pit Bull Dogs

When it comes to breeds that will push up your rates or result in a cancellation, pit bulls are at the top of the list.

If you are looking to adopt a dog in the near future, better call your insurance agent before you bring your new family member home. Depending on the breed, its very possible that your insurer will cancel your homeowners policy, or jack your rates way up.

Bringing a dog into the mix is just like adding a swimming pool according to most insurers. The underwriting risk is very serious and as far as insurers are concerned, the odds that the dog will eventually bite someone is a big liability, a risk that you will have to pay for in the form of higher rates.

While animal advocates have been trying to get laws passed that ban insurance companies from raising rates or dropping customers based on dog breeds, insurers claim the rate increases are justified.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), dog bite claims have skyrocketed in the last decade. Their stats show that over one third of all homeowner liability claim dollars paid out in 2012 were due to dog bites. This totaled $489 million. The total cost of dog related claims has risen over 51 percent from 2003 to 2012.

Dropping customers or raising rates is a fairly common practice, so much so that many animal shelters bring it up with potential adopters when they are looking for a dog. This practice helps to cut down on returns when the family finds out what will happen to their insurance rates.

When it comes to breeds that will push up your rates or result in a cancellation, pit bulls are at the top of the list. Akitas, mastiffs, German shepherds, malamutes, and Doberman pinschers will also make life difficult for their owners, insurance wise. In many shelters, pit bulls make up the majority of dogs that are difficult or impossible to adopt.

Advocates for animals claim that breed is an unfair way to judge whether a dog is dangerous or not. Insurers on the other hand rely almost solely on statistics and stats show that these dogs are the breeds most commonly involved in dog bite claims. National statistics on dog bites are used to determine rates for the various breeds.

While homeowner policies that have no restrictions on dog breeds are available they can be hard to find and expensive if they are available.  The majority of homeowner’s and renter policies will typically cover dog bit liability but some polices may include breeds that are not covered so be sure to check your policy before you finalize a dog selection.

While it may be tempting not to mention your dog when applying for homeowners insurance, this can be a costly mistake. Even the most docile dog can end up biting someone if the circumstances are right and an undisclosed dog will not be covered by your policy. This can leave you holding the bag on a very large liability bill if the person bit decides to sue.

If your new best friend pushes your rates past your budget, shop around before dropping Fido off at a shelter. Insurers rate risk differently which can lead to huge differences in premium prices. Shopping around is the best way to find a policy that covers your dog and is also affordable.

The breed of dog you choose can have a big impact on your homeowner policy so check with your agent before buying or adopting a dog.

For more information about how to reduce the risk associated with dog bites on your property, please visit our FAQ page.

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