Animals can be a great way to create shared responsibilities and instant companionship. Welcoming a new puppy or dog can be exciting and a wonderful experience for kids and adults. But how often do you review your homeowners insurance policy before welcoming or caring for someone else's dog on your property? Did you know that some breeds of dogs may be excluded if they bite or injure a person or another animal?
All Dogs Have The Potential
Regardless of breed, any dog can bite or be aggressive towards another dog, animal, or person during feeding time, free time, when anxious, or when they have possession of their toys. Not all dogs are cordial, socialized, or have received obedience training.
Most Common Breeds Documented For Potential Biting History
These breeds are the most common documented for a biting history to other animals, adults, and children:
- Akita (Also known as a Japanese Akita or an Akita Inu)
- American Bulldog or American Bully (Pit Bull Type)
- American Staffordshire Terriers (Commonly known as Pit Bulls)
- American Pit Bull Terriers (Commonly known as Pit Bulls)
- Bull Terrier (Pt Bull type)
- Chow Chows
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers (Commonly known as Pit Bulls)
- Doberman Pinschers
- Dogo Argentino or Alpha Blue Bulldog (Pit Bull Type)
- German Shepherds
- Miniature Bull Terrier (Pit Bull Type)
- Presa Canario or Perro de Presa Canario (Commonly known as Canary Dogs)
- South African Boerboels
- Wolf Hybrids
Other large breeds which may be included are:
- Extra-large breed versions of the above
- Alaskan Malamute
- Cane Corso
- Great Dane
- Siberian Husky
Under your home insurance policy, liability protection for injuries and property damage could be declined if you own, have custody of, are caring for any of these pure or mixed breeds of these types, or if you own a breed not included on the list above, with prior/current biting or aggressive behavior.
Learn About The Breed(s)
Before bringing a puppy or dog into your home or on your property, consider these few questions to narrow down your selection and what fits in your lifestyle and home:
- What obedience training is necessary for you and the dog?
- Does your pet have a high-prey drive?
- What is the energy level of the dog?
- What group is your dog from -- are they a working dog group?
- Are they aggressive? What is their behavior toward litter mates, and/or people?
- What is their history?
- How large is the dog going to be?
- What type of kennel/crate will they need?
- How much socialization will be required?
- What will the average cost for regular scheduled veterinarian visits?
What Is The Risk?
If you decide to take the risk and decide to select a purebred or mixed breed of the commonly excluded dog breeds, understand if a biting/attack claim occurs involving your pet, there may be no coverage on your home insurance policy to protect you.
You may be personally responsible for:
- Victim's pain and suffering (mental aggravation, therapy)
- Medical care (doctor's visits, hospital bills, reconstructive surgery)
- Lost wages
- Court costs
- Attorney fees
- Amount owned to victim as deemed by court
- Loss of personal assets
Depending on the severity, settlements awarded in dog bite cases vary between $500 to $500,000+.
Review Your Property Policy Liability Exclusions
If you are in the market for a new puppy or dog, review the liability exclusions section of your home insurance, mobile home insurance, condo insurance, townhome insurance, or renter insurance policy first to determine what breeds or mix breeds should be off limits.
Always Ask and Shop Smart
Before you get your heart set on a puppy or dog, always ask what the mix breed is -- particularly at pet shelters--where the breed might not be obvious.
Review your policy, visit or call your insurance agent for clarification of the breed or breed mixes your insurance policy excludes, before you bring the cute puppy or dog into your home.
We Can Help
As an independent insurance agency, we have the ability to shop for you, including home insurance carriers with more lenient dog breed restrictions. Considering or currently own one of the breeds? Give us a call, schedule an appointment with a licensed risk advisor, or stop by one of our three office locations and we can help find the insurance protection you deserve through our consultative insurance-buying process. Call today!