If you own a dog or plan on getting one, be aware of homeowners insurance dog breed restrictions. Dogs such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, Chows, Presa Canarios and Akitas are often on banned-dog lists by home insurance companies.
Generally home insurance covers a homeowner's liability for dog bites. But some home insurance companies have lists of prohibited dog breeds -- they will not sell coverage to you, or will exclude liability and medical payments coverage for dog-related injuries -- if you own a prohibited breed.
Other insurers don't have a "list" but will judge dogs on a case-by-case basis. Many insurers ban any dog that has been "aggressive" or has a history of biting.
Top 10 banned dog breeds
EverQuote analyzed lists of prohibited dogs from state insurance filings to find the most-banned breeds. We looked at filings made by the 50 largest home insurance companies. Here are the 10 dog breeds most often on prohibited lists:
- Pit bull
- Chow chow
- Presa Canario
- Doberman Pinscher
- Wolf hybrids
- German shepherd
Click through our slideshow to see the banned dogs and how often they're on banned lists.
More: See our full study of dogs on home insurance banned lists.
Note that no home insurance policy, whether it excludes your dog or not, will cover bills if your dog damages your own property or bites a member of your own household.
What to do if you own a restricted dog breed
If you have a restricted breed, your home insurer might drop you or suggest you get rid of the dog in order to keep coverage. Here are possible solutions.
- 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:
- The dog has a Canine Good Citizen certificate from the American Kennel Club.
- 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.
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. You will not have insurance for liability claims against you if the dog bites or injures someone. This means you'll be personally responsible if you're sued over a dog injury. The average dog liability insurance claim was $33,230 in 2016, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
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.
4. Get insurance for the dog another way. If your dog is excluded from home insurance coverage, there may be other ways to cover dog liability:
- Buy an umbrella liability policy from your home insurer. Some umbrella insurance policies will cover liability for dog bites. But before you buy one for this purpose, confirm the umbrella policy covers dog-related injuries.
- 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 Legal Liability Coverage. Canine liability insurance policies are typically offered by "excess" or "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 injury to lead to a problem getting home insurance. According to the experts, 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.
The elephant in the room
Dogs aren't the only animals that might be banned by home insurance companies. Insurers also typically won't cover "exotic" animals. While definitions of exotic can vary, here are examples of other animals commonly excluded from home insurance coverage.
- Monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons, mandrills, orangutans.
- Lions, tigers, bobcats, lynx, cougars, leopards, jaguars, ocelots and panthers.
- Wolves, coyotes, foxes and jackals.
- All bears.
- Venomous snakes, constricting snakes and carnivorous reptiles.
- Alligators and crocodiles.
- Hippopotamuses, giraffes, camels and elk.
- Raccoons and coatis.
- Kangaroos and opossums.
- Rhinoceroses and tapirs.
- Anteaters, sloths and armadillos.
- Mongooses, civets and genets.
- Mink, ermine, weasels, sables, stoats, otters, badgers, wolverines and skunks.
- Invasive carp species.
- Ostriches and emus.