If you own a dog or plan on getting one, be aware of homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions. Because one-third of home insurance liability claims are due to dogs, many insurers take steps to limit their chances of having to pay dog-related claims.

Generally home insurance covers dog bites. But some home insurance companies have lists of prohibited dog breeds -- they will not sell insurance to you or will cancel or not renew your policy if you own a prohibited breed. Other insurers don't have a "list" but will judge dogs on a case-by-case basis, looking at whether the dog is "aggressive" or has a history of biting.

And it's not only bites that a dog owner should be worried about: If your dog scratches someone or causes them to fall, or injures someone else's animal, you could get sued.

Among home insurance companies with lists of restricted breeds, the types of dogs not covered by homeowners insurance vary, but here are dogs we commonly found on restricted lists.

Homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions

Dogs most commonly on restricted lists

Akita

Alaskan malamute

 

Akita

 

 

Alaskan malamute

 

Mastiff

Pit bull (also known as American Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire terrier)

 

Mastiff

 

 

Pit bull

 

Presa canario (also known as a canary dog)

Rottweiler

 

Presa canario

 

 

Rottweiler

 

Wolf hybrid (a wolf mixed with any breed)

Any dog with a history of aggression or attacking or biting people or other animals

 

Wolf hybrid

 

 

Aggressive dog

 

Other dog breeds occasionally appearing on restricted lists

Chow

Boxer

 

Chow

 

 

Boxer

 

Dalmatian

Doberman pinscher

 

Dalmatian

 

 

Doberman

 

German shepherd

Shar-Pei

 

German shepherd

 

 

Shar-Pei

 

Siberian husky

Trained attack or guard dogs, or any dog bred for fighting

 

Siberian husky

 

 

Aggressive dog

 

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence. Compiled from filings made to state insurance departments by American Family, Amica, Erie, Esurance, MetLife, Nationwide and Travelers. Not every insurer listed each breed above, nor for every state.

The prohibition of K9 and police dogs varies among insurers that have restricted dog breeds lists, based on EverQuote research. In one case they were on a restricted list, in many cases they weren't mentioned, and in another case they were an exception if they were cared for and controlled by someone trained in handling police dogs.

What to do if you have restricted dog breed

If you have a restricted breed, or any dog who has bitten someone, your home insurer might drop you or suggest you get rid of the dog.

  1. Try to get an exception. If you have a restricted breed of dog, you may be able to get an exception to an insurer's prohibited list if:
  2. The dog has a Canine Good Citizen certificate from the American Kennel Club.
  3. The dog is trained as a service dog (such as a guide dog).

2. Look for a new home insurance company. If you can't get an exception, you could shop around for a new home insurer that will sell you insurance with the dog. You may have an exceptionally hard time if the dog has already bitten someone or you have a pit bull or Rottweiler, which are typically considered aggressive and are on lists of prohibited dog breeds for homeowners insurance.

3. Have the dog excluded from coverage. If you have a prohibited breed and want to stay with your insurer, ask if you can get the dog excluded from coverage. This means you will not have insurance for liability or medical payments claims against you if the dog bites or attacks someone. If your current home insurer won't sell you a policy that excludes dog liability, ask an independent insurance agent if there are any companies that will.

If the dog is excluded from coverage, someone can sue you for an injury from your dog and you'll have to pay for your own legal defense and any judgment against you. That could wreck your finances: The average dog liability claim was $33,230 in 2016, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

4. Get insurance for the dog another way. If your dog is excluded from home insurance coverage, here are ways to cover dog liability:

  • Buy an umbrella liability policy from your home insurer. Some umbrella policies will cover liability for dog bites. But before you buy one for this purpose, confirm the umbrella policy covers dog bites.
  • Buy a standalone "canine liability policy." This type of insurance specifically covers the dog if your home insurance company won't. For example, Kingstone Insurance offers canine liability insurance. Canine liability insurance policies are typically offered by "excess and surplus" lines insurers. This means the insurers are not licensed by a state and not subject to state insurance department rules. However, many types of specialty policies are sold by excess and surplus lines insurers. Ask an independent insurance agent what your options are for canine liability policies.

Preventing dog bites -- and home insurance problems

You don't want a dog bite or scratch to lead to a problem getting home insurance. Here are ways to prevent dog bites:

  • Be especially careful if children are around. Children ages 5 to 9 are most likely to get dog bites, and boys more likely than girls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Spay or neuter the dog. A dog is less likely to bite if spayed or neutered, according to The Humane Society.
  • Socialize the dog so he is used to being around people. Socialization and supervision help reduce dog bites, according to The Humane Society.
  • More tips on preventing dog bites are available from The Humane Society.