Homeowners Insurance & Dogs

There are over 63 million U.S. households that own a dog. You may not have known that, when buying homeowners insurance, many insurance companies have a list of dog breeds they will not provide liability coverage for.

When a dog bites or causes other dog-related injuries (think: somebody falls because a dog jumps up on them or the dog causes a bicyclist to fall), it usually is the homeowners insurance policy that pays the victim. The average dog bite claim will cost the insurer just under $45,000 in medical and legal expenses. In 2020, all dog-related injuries cost homeowner insurance companies an estimated $854 million.

Forbes magazine recently compiled a list of banned dog breed lists from 42 different insurance companies. Nearly all companies banned doberman pinschers, pit bulls and rottweilers, and more than 90% banned chow chows and any wolf hybrid. German Shepherds were banned by 45% of the company policies, and you might be surprised to know that great danes were banned on by 17% of insurance companies. Mixed breeds of these dogs and guard dogs were also frequently banned, and if your dog has any prior incident of biting another person or attacking people, then that could result in an amendment to the policy or a decline of coverage. Some insurance companies are now requiring dog owners of certain breeds to sign liability waivers for dog bites.

It’s true that only a small number of dogs from these breeds act aggressively. The Animal Defense League, the American Kennel Club, and Best Friends Animal Society point this out in their lobbying efforts. These organizations are seeking a moratorium on “banned breed lists”.