Pit bulls and Rottweilers are the most frequently banned dogs by homeowners insurance companies that have prohibited-dog lists. Chows, Presa Canarios and Akitas are also frequently banned from insurance coverage, along with many other breeds.
These dog bans mean that the insurer won't offer coverage to a person with a banned breed, or will offer only coverage that doesn't include dog-related injuries. If a dog is excluded from coverage, the dog owner is personally on the hook for liability lawsuits stemming from a dog-related injury. This could include a dog bite, dog attack or even an injury from a dog who jumps up to greet someone and knocks them over.
EverQuote analyzed state insurance filings made by the 50 largest homeowners insurance companies to find the dog breeds that are most often prohibited from insurance coverage. Not all home insurers have official "prohibited dogs" lists, but among the largest home insurance company groups, 56% have at least one subsidiary with a list of "unacceptable" dogs.
Instead of banning certain dogs, some home insurance companies will charge extra to homeowners who own them. And other insurers don't have lists of banned dogs but will use judgment about coverage on a case-by-case basis.
No matter what breed of dog you own, if it has a history of aggression or biting people, you could run into trouble keeping or finding homeowners insurance.
Certified service dogs are generally not banned no matter what the breed.
Reasons for dog bans
Prohibiting certain dog breeds from coverage is an important cost-containment measure by home insurance companies. Claims for dog bites and other dog-related injuries made up more than one-third of all homeowners liability claims in 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. The average insurance claim payment for a dog-related injury was $37,051.
"While there is no definitive list of dangerous breeds, it is important for each insurer to be able to have the ability to provide homeowners insurance based upon its own reasoned judgment of risk factors and the related anticipated loss, including the company's own assessment of the potential vicious propensities of a particular animal or breed of dog," says Chris Hackett, senior director of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, a trade group.
"It is important to note that not all insurers impose restrictions based on the breed of dog," says Hackett. The insurance industry is only seeking to maintain the ability to make appropriate underwriting and rating decisions based on their experience rather than having to wait for a potentially devastating personal injury loss before being able to decide whether or not to provide, or continue to provide, coverage."
Most homeowners don't agree with banning dogs
EverQuote surveyed 2,250 homeowners in January 2019 to find out if they thought home insurance companies should be able to deny coverage to homeowners who own certain breeds. The majority of people (59%) said no.
Options for homeowners with banned dogs
If your home insurer has banned your dog, there are generally a few options:
- Find out if your insurer will offer coverage that excludes liability for the dog. Keep in mind that you'll still be financially responsible if the dog injures someone.
- Ask your insurer if they have an umbrella insurance policy that covers dog liability. Umbrella insurance is extra liability coverage on top of home and auto policies.
- Look for a different insurer that will offer coverage that includes the dog.
- Buy coverage from an "excess" or "surplus" lines insurer. These are companies that offer specialty coverage that other insurers won't. An independent insurance agent can help you find an excess or surplus lines insurer.
April 7-13, 2019, is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Here are tips for preventing dog bites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why dangerous dogs are like condemned property
Dog breeds end up on prohibited lists because home insurers expect a high chance of liability claims without a ban. But certain dogs aren't the only thing that insurers find unacceptable because of higher claims. Unfenced swimming pools, trampolines without safety netting, and skateboard and bicycle ramps are also frequently listed as unacceptable.
The list of unacceptable situations varies by company, but in EverQuote's review of state insurance filings we also saw bans on coverage for:
- Condemned, abandoned and vacant property.
- Houses built on severe slopes.
- Houses built over sand or water.
- Properties on the National Registry of Historic Places.
- Log homes.
- Houses with a wood stove.
- Homes with window bars.
- Property that isn't accessible year-round to a fire department.
- Earth home, yurts and balloon constructions.
- Homes with knob and tube wiring.
- Homes with a daycare operation.
- Households with more than three dogs.
- Applicants or family members who have been convicted of a felony.
- Customers with high-profile occupations such as actors, sports figures, journalists and public officials.
EverQuote examined filings made with state insurance departments nationwide by the 50 largest home insurance groups. We looked for at least one subsidiary with a prohibited-dogs list. We then tracked which dogs appeared on the banned lists to calculate a percent for each breed. We also commissioned a nationwide survey of 2,250 homeowners in January 2019.
- State insurance filings: S&P Global Market Intelligence.
- Dog-related claims in 2017: Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.
Posted April 1, 2019