March 28, 2023

When initiating a brand new owners insurance coverage coverage, the outcome can at all times be a raffle. Will my insurance coverage premium be too excessive? Ought to I fear about protection limits? Will I must buy extra protection?

All these questions come to thoughts when researching insurance coverage carriers. And if you happen to’re a canine proprietor, you’ll have yet one more: Will my insurance coverage firm prohibit my canine’s breed from protection? And even when they don’t, will they cowl canine chew claims if my canine bites a neighbor?

Whereas these questions is perhaps new to you, they’re actually not new to insurance coverage suppliers. In 2021, insurance coverage corporations spent roughly $882 million on dog-bite and dog-injury-related legal responsibility claims, based on a 2022 analysis by the Insurance coverage Info Institute. That quantity represents a rise of just about $10 million from the quantity paid out in 2020.

Not solely did the entire quantity paid for canine chew claims improve, however so did the entire variety of canine chew claims nationwide—from nearly 17,600 in 2020 to nearly 18,000 in 2021. Regardless of the rise within the variety of individuals reporting canine chew incidents, the typical value per declare really decreased from $49,558 in 2020 to $49,025 in 2021.

However any year-over-year adjustments can’t essentially present the total image—that the price of dog-bite claims has actually seen a outstanding uptick within the final decade. From 2012 to 2021, the typical value per declare has risen by 39 p.c, from $29,752 to greater than $49,000. The Insurance coverage Info Institute attributes that largely to elevated medical prices and bigger settlements awarded to plaintiffs.

Relying on what the statute is the place you reside, canine house owners may be held routinely responsible for any damage or property injury their canine causes or are solely accountable if the canine has exhibited violent habits up to now. Some statutes, referred to as negligence legal guidelines, maintain the proprietor liable in the event that they have been “unreasonably careless” in caring for the canine.

Getting nervous but, canine house owners? Don’t fear — you’re in good firm. Roughly 70{5d900b5cef8a1d0ddf57da84d6aa2b178a5cc18a9524d574352760010a41eed0} of U.S. households — 90.5 million houses — personal a canine, based on the American Pet Products Association’s 2021-2022 survey.

Or possibly it is best to fear. Do you know {that a} majority of states — 29 — think about canine house owners responsible for any accidents their pet causes? California and Florida are the highest two states for variety of canine chew claims. In 2021, California insurers paid out roughly $120 million in canine chew claims whereas Florida insurers paid out about $81 million.

Is Your Canine on the Restricted Breeds Record?

Some house insurance coverage corporations have a listing of restricted dog breeds. Breeds thought-about “restricted” raise red flags as a result of they’re thought-about a better threat of resulting in high-cost insurance coverage payouts. (Together with trampolines, canine are one of many greater complications for corporations supplying owners insurance coverage.)

Relying on every firm’s practices, proudly owning sure breeds might doubtlessly imply larger premiums, much less favorable protection phrases, and at worst no protection in any respect.

“The (corporations) that do have some sort of restriction on breeds usually base it on the losses that they expertise,” stated Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communication for the Insurance coverage Info Institute. “They’ve decided, ‘OK, we had extra losses with this breed than that breed.’”

A Forbes Advisor analysis of generally banned canine breeds, up to date in Oct. 2022, revealed that Doberman pinschers, pit bulls and rottweilers confirmed up on all surveyed lists of breed restrictions. Chow-chows and wolf canine or wolf hybrids additionally appeared on greater than 90{5d900b5cef8a1d0ddf57da84d6aa2b178a5cc18a9524d574352760010a41eed0} of lists.

Some insurance coverage corporations don’t have exhausting and quick guidelines that instantly bar a buyer from protection ought to they personal a selected canine breed, based on Ruiz. Sure canine breeds might engender additional questions.

“Perhaps one firm likes to check out the breeds however then will ask, ‘What sort of coaching do you will have? Have you ever had any prior losses together with your former insurance coverage corporations?’” Ruiz stated. “It’s a course of. It could possibly be a consideration, however it could not imply that they’re not going to insure you due to it.”

Many house insurance coverage corporations nonetheless wish to insure a possible consumer even when they personal a breed thought-about dangerous. They simply wish to decide the suitable sum of money to cost, Ruiz stated. To do that, an insurance coverage supplier will usually keep in mind a canine’s chew historical past.

Animal advocates, just like the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, stress that training — fairly than a canine’s breed — performs an enormous function in a canine’s habits. “There’s lots to be stated for canine being skilled,” Ruiz stated. “That’s the extra essential focus — for individuals to have a look at whether or not they’re being accountable pet house owners.”

How Do Completely different Householders Insurance coverage Corporations Deal with Canines?

Should you personal a canine which may be on one of many restricted canine breed lists, it’s comprehensible that you simply’d marvel what to do subsequent. Perhaps you’re already shopping for insurance coverage to cowl vet payments and also you don’t want any further bills. On the subject of canine breeds owners insurance coverage, it’s essential to do your analysis.

We talked to owners insurance coverage corporations to get you some solutions about which insurance coverage suppliers even think about canine breeds and what inquiries to count on while you apply for protection.

State Farm

State Farm doesn’t ask what breed of canine a home-owner owns, based on an April 2022 press release.

In 2021, the corporate paid nearly $162 million in additional than 3,200 dog-related damage claims, per State Farm. Each the variety of claims and the entire quantity paid went up between 2020 and 2021 by 2.3{5d900b5cef8a1d0ddf57da84d6aa2b178a5cc18a9524d574352760010a41eed0} and three{5d900b5cef8a1d0ddf57da84d6aa2b178a5cc18a9524d574352760010a41eed0}, respectively. California and Illinois topped the corporate’s record of variety of dog-injury-related claims per state.

“Each canine has a novel persona,” the corporate signifies within the assertion. “Whereas a canine’ breed might dictate how they appear, how a canine reacts in a scenario isn’t assured by breed or sort. It’s essential to keep in mind that even well-trained canine can chew if they’re put into the fallacious scenario.”

Earlier this 12 months, State Farm public affairs specialist Michal Brower advisable that canine house owners ask their insurance coverage firm or agent what their owners coverage covers. A house insurance coverage firm might cowl canine bites or canine accidents below the legal responsibility protection portion, however that may have protection limits. A extreme chew or damage might imply the buyer has to pay out of pocket if it falls over their coverage restrict.


“USAA doesn’t think about canine breed in our underwriting of house owners insurance policies,” based on firm spokesperson Rebekah Nelson in January 2022. However the firm does look at bite history. “Requests for insurance coverage could also be declined when the insured owns an animal that has beforehand bitten or attacked,” Nelson stated on the time.

USAA membership is open to most veterans and their eligible relations.

Farmers Insurance coverage

Pointers and restrictions range by state, based on exterior communications supervisor Carly Kraft in early 2022. However California residents in search of insurance coverage with pit bulls, Rottweilers or “wolf hybrids” might have an issue, based on nonprofit pit bull advocacy group BADRAP. As of up to date steering, the insurance coverage firm is not insuring new clients with these canine, per BADRAP.

“If a canine bites or injures somebody outdoors of your family, the legal responsibility part of Farmers owners and renters insurance coverage insurance policies will usually assist cowl medical bills ensuing from the damage, as much as the legal responsibility limits within the coverage,” Kraft stated on the time. “Insurers might think about excluding protection for canine bites, no matter breed, if a canine has beforehand bitten somebody.”


Amica doesn’t have any restricted canine breeds, based on communications and public relations supervisor Brendan Dowding in early 2022. As an alternative, they concentrate on a canine’s historical past and habits.

“Throughout our underwriting course of, we do ask clients who personal canine numerous questions on their canine, together with particulars on prior habits and temperament,” Dowding stated.

Ought to a canine chew somebody, that’s when the client’s owners legal responsibility protection and legal responsibility safety would come into play.

“Within the occasion a buyer is liable for his or her canine biting somebody, normally, their owners coverage would supply protection below the legal responsibility portion of a owners/condominium/rental coverage,” Dowding stated. “Nonetheless, each incident is completely different and exclusions might apply.”

Liberty Mutual and Nationwide

These two insurance coverage corporations are amongst these described by animal advocacy group MSPCA as ones “which will insure in any other case black-listed canine breeds.”

MSPCA goes on to state: “Most of those corporations work on a case by case foundation, contemplating the person canine’s habits and historical past, and will require a meet and greet with the canine and/or a Canine Good Citizen certification or sure housing necessities.”

Vacationers Insurance coverage

Vacationers homeowners insurance underwriting guidelines from 2014 state that numerous canine breeds — in addition to any animal that’s “vicious or has beforehand bitten or injured” — are restricted from protection. These breeds include pit bulls, Akitas, American Staffordshire terriers, Bullmastiffs and Staffordshire bull terriers.


The insurance coverage firm doesn’t provide property, condominium or tenant insurance coverage to house owners of — or those that dwell with — Pit Bulls, Rottweilers or combined breeds wherein a type of breeds is dominant, per an announcement supplied by an Allstate spokesperson to the Kingstonist News.


Progressive’s web site doesn’t point out whether or not they ban sure canine breeds, however notes that some insurance providers prohibit breeds like German shepherds, combined breeds and American bulldogs.

The web site states: “Householders insurance coverage received’t cowl property injury or damage to occupants of your house brought on by a pet, however typically covers claims that different events make because of your pet’s actions — no matter whether or not the incident occurred at your house or elsewhere.”

Pets are typically lined below the legal responsibility limits of a home-owner’s insurance coverage coverage.

Author Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, usually writing about promoting items on-line via social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Journal and the Tampa Bay Occasions.