Is it true that the type of dog I have will impact my homeowners insurance premiums?

I want to get my kids a dog, but I don't want to negatively affect my insurance or see the costs rise.

Asked by Michael

1 Answer

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Answered by Priscilla Callans, Insurance Agent in Gurnee, IL
Hi Michael,
The best answer, is ‘it depends’. Insurance companies are definitely trying to underwrite for different types of losses now more than they ever did, and when it comes to Liability coverage, dog bite is one of the most common, and expensive, claims.

Some companies are not doing anything regarding dogs, some won’t write policies with certain dog breeds, others are increasing rates if you have a dog breed they deem to be a higher risk based on their loss experience. There is data to support this kind of charge, for example, a Chihuahua in a moment of anger can cause a nasty bite, but a larger, more aggressive breed in the same moment of anger can cause real damage, so there is loss history to support this choice.

It is a choice that is made independently with each insurance company, however, so first thing you should do is call your insurance agent. They will be the best person to inform you of your companies specific underwriting guidelines and requirements, and these can vary by state as well, so the answer for someone on the east coast can be very different on the west coast, even with the same carrier. With Allstate, the one company I can speak specifically about, we do ask about dogs in the house, but we don’t deny or charge more for any dog breed in Illinois and Wisconsin.

The 12 dog breeds regularly identified by insurance companies as ‘high risk’ are:
1. Pit Bulls
2. Staffordshire Terriers
3. Doberman Pinschers
4. Rottweilers
5. German Shepherds
6. Chows
7. Great Danes
8. Presa Canarios
9. Akitas
10. Alaskan Malamutes
11. Siberian Huskies
12. Wolf-hybrids

There are many other types of breeds available out there that make great family pets, and I know that all the dogs on the list will also have many advocates saying they are great and safe family pets and I have no doubt that is true! I myself have a very cranky Poodle mix while my friend has the sweetest German Shepherd you ever met, and odds are, my dog would cause trouble before hers would!

Call your agent and ask about dogs with your specific homeowners policy. If you are considering any dog addition to your home, you should probably review your current liability coverage you have and whether or not your agent suggests you increase your coverage. Accidents can happen with the nicest of pets, so you should make sure you are adequately covered no matter which dog you pick, just in case. Ask as well about excess liability coverage in the form of a personal umbrella policy! It can be an excellent addition to your insurance protection portfolio and having that extra coverage gives great peace of mind that your assets will be protected in the event of a loss.

Good luck in finding the perfect dog for your family!
| 09.12.13 @ 20:02
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