Many people with dogs are responsible, hard workers who manage to care for their homes and their dogs with equal fervor.
But did you know that if you have a breed of dog deemed “dangerous” or “aggressive,” your insurance company can refuse to give you a homeowners’ policy?
I had a lot of questions about this, so I reached out to my own insurance company, Geico, for some answers. Geico contracts with several insurance companies across the United States and has access to different companies’ policies on dogs.
6 Dog Breeds Usually Considered Dangerous
Insurance companies maintain their own internal list of dog breeds considered to be high-risk. You won’t find this list anywhere on your company’s website — you’ll have to call and ask if your dog breed is high-risk.
Each insurance company’s list can be slightly different, but several breeds are commonly listed:
There is something common between all these breeds. Can you spot it?
If not, don’t worry. I couldn’t either until my Geico agent, Dave (he didn’t want to provide his last name for this article), explained it to me. The way a dog makes the list is by an all-important criterion: damage potential.
Your dog may be the sweetest, friendliest, even voted “Most Likely to Star in the Next Disney Movie” dog, but all the above breeds have the potential to do great harm to a person.
That is what the insurance company thinks about when considering how to best write up a homeowners’ policy for you.
Why Do You Need Extra Coverage, Anyway?
If someone comes onto your property and scares your dog, he may bite or attack. Anything perceived as a threat could fall into a dog’s radar, even if the person on your property means no harm.
I was given a terrific example by Dave, my insurance agent:
“If a child playing runs across your yard and startles your dog, he may bite that child. Even though technically the child was trespassing, the parents of that child could still sue you — and win.”
Without insurance specifically covering this sort of accident, you could be liable personally for their expenses.
What If You Can’t Afford It?
I asked this question to the Geico agent because I thought it was going to add a lot more money to my insurance bill.
I was amazed to find out that some insurance companies simply include it in policies with no extra fee. Some companies do charge a premium, and that premium generally falls between $25 and $50.
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Again, that’s only $25 to $50 per year. Even if you paid the high-end $50, it’s 14 cents a day. Weigh that cost against the potential lawsuit of a dog biting someone on your property, and it makes sense to get the extra coverage.
Lying to Your Agent: “I Don’t Have a Dog”
Nowadays with technology expanding and the world shrinking, I’d not recommend lying about your dog.
If an agent comes to your home and sees your dog, how do you plan to explain it? Dog sitting? The old “It’s not mine; I don’t know who he belongs to” routine? Agents aren’t stupid, and they’ve heard it all before.
The repercussions of your lie could be serious. Your insurance company could cancel your policy.
What If You Have Several Dogs?
If you have more than one dog, most insurance companies are prepared to handle that. Some companies have a limit on the amount of dogs they cover.
According to Geico, the average limit for companies that impose a limit is 3 dogs.
This video lists more breeds that might be considered dangerous, and it offers statistics about dog bites and insurance:
Foster Moms and Dads
Fosters, you are a unique “breed” of your own. You may have more than 3 dogs at any one time, and you may also have different breeds on your property. I recommend that you call your insurance company, and be up front.
Be honest and let them know what you’re doing, why and most importantly, what you are doing as a responsible homeowner to prevent incidents.
Is it fair that dogs get stereotyped on their breed alone? No, it is not. Human beings make all the difference in the world regarding their dogs’ behavior. But the damage potential cannot be ignored — at least by your insurance provider.