The cost of homeowners insurance can be impacted by a multitude of things, from loss history to credit score. Many homeowners don’t expect the cost of a policy to depend on the breed of dog they own, but this can certainly factor into the cost of your insurance if your dog is on the Dogs of a Vicious Nature list. Dogs of a Vicious Nature is a term coined by the insurance industry to identify dogs that make up a large percentage of their more expensive dog bite claims.
Homeowners insurance MAY exclude liability coverage for families that own a Dog of a Vicious Nature. Just some of the breeds that may be on this list are the Akita, Alaskan, Chow, Doberman Pincher, German Shepherd, Malamute, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or Wolfdog and definitely the Pit Bull.
According to the ASPCA, it's estimated that 78 million dogs are owned in the United States. Approximately 44% of all households in the United States have a dog, Pit Bulls have received a lot of negative press – a breed of dog commonly used in dog fighting - and also a very common breed to see in shelters and rescues. Pit bulls make up about 6% of the total U.S. dog population. Of the 31U.S. dog bite related fatalities in 2016, together, Pit Bulls (22) accounted for 71% of the total recorded deaths.
How Does a Dog Bite Affect Homeowners Insurance Rates?
According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims are attributable to dog bites, costing the industry $571.3 million in 2015, up 7.6 percent from 2014, and up 76 percent since 2003 – when dog-bite claims cost the industry $324.2 million.
I.I.I. found the average cost of a dog-bite claim in 2015 was a staggering $37,214, up 16 percent over 2014. Since 2003, the average cost of a dog bite has risen more than 94 percent.
Every insurance company will have different rules and regulations when it comes to insuring a family that owns a dog classified as an aggressive breed. With that said, there are insurance agencies that still offer affordable homeowners insurance, along with other policy options, that will include coverage for your four-legged family member, no matter what the breed.
How to Get Homeowners Insurance to Cover Your Dog
If you own a dog on the Dogs of a Vicious Nature, here are a few tips to help you obtain insurance to cover any dog-related incidents:
· Review your homeowners insurance coverage with your insurance agent - Will they or won't they cover your breed of dog?
· Shop around - One of the benefits of using an independent agent is that they can do the shopping around for you, saving you time and hassle.
· Train and socialize your pet - Exposing your dog to strangers, along with strange dogs, is an important part of developing a safe family member. You may also consider finding a dog trainer to help you with this process.
· Spay/Neuter Your Pet - spaying or neutering your pet can decrease your chances of facing a dog bite lawsuit. In 2009, 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs - 94% of which were not neutered.
· Get an umbrella policy – if your dog bites someone, you could end up being responsible for extensive medical bills or a law suit. An umbrella policy will provide additional liability coverage at a low cost.
· Pet Liability insurance - is available in most states if you are unable to obtain coverage under your homeowners insurance policy
Nobody expects a dog bite to happen. Taking the proper precautions and having adequate insurance can make the difference between financial stability and financial ruin after a dog bite. Your independent insurance agent is a great resource for you and can help make sure you and your four legged best friend are protected.