When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, several plans exclude certain “aggressive” dog breeds. That is beginning to change, thanks to animal welfare organizations. For years, most insurers have had local coverage or outright rejected insurance to families with a dog they consider to be of a potentially dangerous breed. Pit bulls, German shepherds, Akitas, Chow Chows, Dobermans, and Rottweilers are among the breeds often banned by companies.
The prohibitions are intended to reduce dog bite claims, which are covered under the liability part of conventional insurance and have increased in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. The Insurance Information Institute predicts that more than $850 million will be paid out in bite claims in 2020.
Dog organizations share concerns about violent dogs but have long battled insurers over the idea that a dog’s breed accurately predicts its propensity to attack. For years, they’ve been lobbying state governments, which regulate insurance, to prohibit what they call “breed discrimination.” And 2021 proved to be a very fruitful year for their efforts.
What does the anti-discrimination movement imply for your dog and your policy? Every dog owner, particularly those with an often targeted breed, should know about their pet and their house insurance. When you should pay for pet and house insurance, but you are short on cash, then you may apply for a loan. Greendayonline is the best place to do this because suggests loans that are Guaranteed for high risk borrowers.
Since June, three states have approved laws prohibiting or restricting the use of breed blocklists in home insurance decisions: Nevada, Illinois, and, most recently, New York State. According to a 2020 white paper by seven animal-advocacy organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States and the American Kennel Club, those states join at least 22 others that have already banned breed use in house insurance in some way.
On breed policies, insurers vs. animal activists.
According to the insurance business, one of the tools firms need to underwrite house insurance policies effectively is categorizing breeds for aggressiveness. This means assessing applicants for risk and deciding whether or not to cover them and for how much. Insurers say that permitting breeds to be used as a cause to refuse or reduce coverage would increase dog attack claims, which will be passed on to all customers.
The Insurance Information Institute’s Mark Friedlander, the director of corporate relations, anticipates that New York’s law would result in homeowners throughout the state “paying a higher premium to compensate the few homeowners with violent dogs.” Friedlander says it’s too early to estimate how much these hikes would cost a single homeowner and that any rate adjustments would have to be authorized by state regulators.
“Each firm that sells homes insurance in New York State will have to review its underwriting risk to see whether a statewide rate hike is necessary due to the new dog breed limitations.”
On the other hand, dog proponents argue that the industry cannot justify rate rises based on the elimination of breed limitations — or even the existence of breed-specific regulations at all.
The 2020 proponents’ white paper adds, “There is no accurate actuarial data that justify recognizing a difference between breeds, nor is there evidence that insurance claims for particular breeds are financially significant for insurance companies compared to other paid losses.”
Surprisingly, significant sources used by the industry as the foundation for its breed rules support that viewpoint. According to Friedlander, corporations mostly use data from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to compile lists of dangerous breeds.
However, according to a CDC investigation on dog attacks, the use of breed as a credible predictor of a dog’s dangerousness is debatable. Although pit bulls tend to be disproportionately responsible for dog attacks, the agency believes species that are less often singled out “bite and cause deaths at greater rates.”
The AVMA, for its part, rejects breed-specific restrictions, “a simple approach” to the issue of dog attacks, citing a lack of evidence proving risk disparities across breeds.
How to ensure a breed that has been placed on the blocklist
If you’re having difficulties receiving house insurance because of your dog, keep in mind that certain providers don’t discriminate based on breed. Start your search with three of the country’s largest insurers: State Farm, Allstate, and Farmers, which all provide “breed-blind” home insurance.
Other firms might also be viable alternatives. According to the enthusiast website Dogendorsed, some insurers do not outright restrict breeds but may be wary of insuring particular ones (Liberty Mutual and Amica) or limit liability claims for houses where such dogs dwell (American Family Insurance).
It is not always more expensive to insure with a provider that does not require you to disclose your dog’s breed. State Farm, for example, is often cited by websites that monitor home-insurance rates as being less costly than the national average.
Another alternative is to take homeowners’ or renters’ insurance with limited or no liability coverage for your dog and seek coverage elsewhere.
Umbrella liability insurance can protect you as a homeowner and as a vehicle or boat owner. You may also get separate liability insurance for your dog to augment your homeowner’s or renters’ coverage. According to attorney Kenneth M. Phillips, who specializes in dog-bite lawsuits, insurance like this might cost anywhere from $75 to $1,000 per year, depending on the carrier and the liability level you choose.
“A separate pet liability coverage may be expensive,” Phillips points out, “but it’s not nearly as expensive as a lawsuit.”
Your dog’s anti-aggression training
After insuring yourself against your dog’s aggressiveness, the best way to preserve your coverage — at least reasonably — is to exercise preventive training.
If your dog bites someone, it’s usually too late. Your premiums may rise, or your insurance may be canceled. If you lose your insurance, you could have a hard time finding another company that would cover you and your dog. A dog’s rap sheet might make it uninsurable.
If you suspect your dog is aggressive, the American Kennel Club recommends seeking expert treatment. Request a referral from your veterinarian for a qualified animal behaviorist in your region. The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers are the other organizations recommended by the AKC.
Some pet insurance plans that include behavioral treatment may be able to assist you with anti-aggression training.
Last but not least, if you possess a “discriminated” breed, you may be tempted to lie about its genealogy or prior conduct if the insurance inquires, which they almost certainly will.
Experts believe that both actions would be costly blunders. If your dog causes an injury to someone, your lack of openness will be exposed during the claims process, and the claim may be refused.