Homeowners Insurance And The Responsible Dog Owner

Your homeowners insurance protects you from the unexpected. As much as your fur baby is a member of the family, cover your assets. Read on to see how this can affect your homeowners policy.

There’s no bones about it, if you are like me, no home is complete without man’s best friend. They bring us joy, they give us unconditional love. They give us companionship, and there nothing better than their excitement when we walk through the door at the end of the day.

U.S. households include almost 90 million dogs with their intelligence and desire to please it’s no wonder they are the number one species chosen to be service and therapy animals.

That said, the Center For Disease Control estimates that 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in this country. Over half of these bites occur at a home with dogs that are familiar to the victim.

The average cost for these claims paid out was $44,760 in 2019 and this number is increasing yearly. With that in mind, many look to their own home, renters, or condo policy to provide protection against liability claims brought about by dogs, but do they?

When in doubt consult with your agent who can advise the best way to protect you, your assets, and your four legged friends.
~Tracy Lynne Rennspiess – SWFL Insurance

Homeowners Insurance and Animal Liability

In Florida, many insurers exclude animal liability, ironically Florida is #2 in dog bite claims annually in this country. Carriers offer it on a case by case basis taking into account the dog breed, temperament, size another factors to determine insurability.

Some insurers will not insure dogs of a certain breed, even if the breed is mixed with other more insurable breeds not on the insurance industry’s canine “hit list”.

Breeds commonly refused liability coverage are Pitbulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Wolf hybrids, and many others. Some are excluded by carriers due to the aggressive nature of the breed like the American Staffordshire Terrier (Pitbull), while others may be excluded due to a large bite radius like a Great Dane or Mastiff.

While some insurers/agents won’t ask for your dog’s breed, once there is a dog related incident, your insurer may non-renew your homeowners insurance policy, surcharge your policy, or exclude your pet altogether.

What to do if you have a dog on the insurance carrier breed “hit list”?

  1. Have an honest discussion with your agent about what is and is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If animal liability is excluded you need to know to protect your assets. Even if animal liability is covered once your liability limit is exceeded by an animal claim you are responsible for the exceeded amount.
  2. If you find out animal liability is excluded from your home policy, have your licensed, independent agent look for a new carrier, though you may still have a hard time finding coverage if you have a Pitbull, Rottweiler, or other breed on the list. That said, if your dog is trained as a service animal, therapy dog, or a member of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program some carriers may make an exception.
  3. Ask your independent agent for a stand alone canine liability policy. This policy covers liability claims caused by your dog even if your home owners insurance carrier wont. Pricing for this type of policy ranges from $125 annually for a small mixed breed dog to $400 annually for a spayed/neutered Pitbull. You can have multiple dogs on the same policy and many carriers discount for more than one pet.

We Live In Florida And This Is Fairly Obvious But Needs To Be Said:

As a side point to our discussion on animal liability some in the state of Florida own what is termed in the insurance industry as “Exotic” animals. Almost all carriers exclude “Exotic Animals”, this includes alligators, snakes, wolves and wolf hybrids, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and other species of wildlife kept as pets.

When in doubt consult with your agent who can advise the best way to protect you, your assets, and your four legged friends.

Lastly, there are some who will criticize my use of the insurance industry’s term “aggressive” in describing American Staffordshire Terrier (Pitbulls). I respond to this by saying this is Kendall…and I’m her Mom. I used to think we rescued her, now I know she made it her job to complete our little family, keep us safe from geckos, make us laugh, and feel loved and missed when we walkthrough the door at the end of the day. Mission accomplished, my good girl.

Scroll to Top