Q: How will owning or adopting a pit bull impact my homeowners insurance?
I really love pit bulls and I was planning to adopt one from our local dog shelter. He’s a very gentle dog –not temperamental at all. But now my friends are telling me that if I adopt him, it will make my homeowners insurance more expensive? Is this true?
A: Unfortunately, even if the dog you are hoping to adopt is very tame, pit bulls are considered by most insurance companies to be an aggressive breed. An attack by a pit bull can have devastating consequences; and for this reason, many insurance companies specifically exclude liability coverage for pit bulls and other aggressive breeds such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Siberian Huskies. In other cases, insurance companies may include pet liability coverage for these breeds, but at a cost.
This is a situation where working with your agent can really help. Your agent can help you review your current policy to see if there are any exclusions for certain breeds of dogs and can help you determine how much your rates will increase—if at all—in the event that you do adopt the dog. This might be a good time to let your agent shop around to see if you can secure a policy that meets your coverage needs at an even better rate. Remember, you must notify your insurance company about your pet ownership in order to ensure that you are covered for pet liability. Do not lie about the dog’s breed, as that can result not only in an unpaid claim, but it can also make it hard for you to get coverage in the future.
If you want to keep the homeowners policy you currently have, but it excludes pit bull liability coverage, you still have options. Your agent can help you find and secure a competitively priced canine liability insurance policy. This type of policy will include coverage for dog bites and other pet-related injuries, property damage liability, medical bills, vet bills, income compensation for injured parties and attorney’s fees. You may also want to speak with your agent about increasing your liability protection through an umbrella policy.