What Pit Bull Owners Need to Know About Home and Renters Insurance

Some insurers refuse to provide renters or homeowners insurance for owners of pit bulls and other restricted breeds.

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You know your pit bull wouldn’t hurt a fly. After all, it cowers before the neighbor’s cat. But your renters or homeowners insurance company may be tougher to convince.

Pit bulls are a breed that insurers often deem too dangerous to cover or will insure only at an increased price. Other commonly excluded breeds include Akitas, German shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and wolves or wolf hybrids. However, certain insurers may be more flexible, particularly if your dog has no history of aggression.

Pit bulls may pose costly insurance issues

There’s no question that dogs can cause expensive problems. There were nearly 18,000 dog bite claims in 2021, and the average cost per claim was about $49,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute

Insurance Information Institute. Spotlight on: Dog Bite Liability. Accessed May 13, 2022.
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The personal liability portion of your homeowners or renters insurance policy generally covers such claims. However, in some cases, you may have to add animal liability coverage as an endorsement.

Opponents of dog-breed discrimination point to the fact that any dog, not just a pit bull, is capable of biting if threatened. But your insurer may still see too much risk, fearing that a single pit bull attack could lead to especially costly injuries due to the breed’s size and strength.

How insurance companies restrict pit bull owners

Certain companies won’t sell you coverage if you report owning a pit bull. In some cases, insurers will sell you a policy but stipulate that claims involving your dog won’t be covered.

Others may be willing to insure homes with pit bulls but at a higher cost. The exact price increase is hard to pinpoint because every company has its own approach to selling insurance to dog owners.

Many of these restrictions depend on where you live. In certain states such as Michigan, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania, insurers aren’t allowed to deny or cancel liability coverage solely based on breed.

Shop around for insurance if you have a pit bull

If your current home or renters insurer won’t allow pit bulls, consider looking for coverage elsewhere.

Some insurers, such as State Farm, USAA and NJM, will make coverage decisions based on a dog’s individual behavior rather than its breed.

You can ask your agent or fellow pit bull owners for help finding other accommodating insurance companies. It’s risky to go uninsured if you have a dog, as you could face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs if your pet lashes out.

If you simply can’t find a willing home insurer, look into a canine liability policy. This type of insurance offers stand-alone coverage geared toward “bully” breeds — including bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers — that other companies won’t touch.

Dog Bite Insurance, Xinsurance and the Einhorn Insurance Agency are three agencies that may be able to help you find insurance for your pit bull. Note that these agencies often work with companies known as “excess and surplus lines,” which are willing to accept risks that standard insurance companies aren’t.

If a standard insurance company goes out of business and can’t pay its policyholders’ claims, your state will pay on its behalf. But you don’t have the same protection for excess and surplus policies. For this reason, it’s a good idea to carefully research the insurer offering your policy before purchasing it.

A local insurance agent may also be able to help you get coverage.

To learn more about training your dog and finding pit-bull-friendly insurers, check out these education groups:

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