Blog by: Ken Mogren, CPCU
A question asked on most applications for homeowners insurance is: Do you own any pets? If the answer is yes, the follow-up questions are what kind and what breed? It’s hard to blame insurers for such curiosity considering they collectively pay out about half a billion dollars each year in dog bite claims.
Dog owners are generally considered liable when their dog bites someone and homeowners insurance covers such claims, so chances are, your insurance will pay if a claim is presented for your dog biting someone. Insurance underwriters try to avoid such losses by asking about pets and declining to insure owners of breeds they worry about.
What breeds do they worry about? Just about any dog might bite, but the breeds that are most likely to disqualify a homeowner from getting insurance are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers. German Shepherds, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Doberman Pinschers. Those breeds are the ones most likely to bite and all are good sized, strong dogs capable of inflicting significant injuries.
In addition to the medical bills a dog bite victim might incur, insurers often end up making large payouts when dog bites lead to permanent scars and disfigurement. Concern over such claims has led some insurance companies to simply decline applicants who own certain breeds, with very little consideration given to any precautions against biting the owner might take.
Our advice is to choose a breed with a reputation for NOT biting. Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Scottish Terriers, Poodles and Chihuahuas are breeds that underwriters don’t seem to object to.