Can My Homeowners Insurance Insurance Be Cancelled If I Own a Pitbull?

Owning a “dangerous breed”

Owning a “dangerous breed” makes insurance carriers leery because they believe it’s more a matter of “when” the dog will attack rather than “if”, according to Howard Bergstein, president of independent insurance agency, Erich Courant & Co.

Looking at it from your insurer’s perspective – dog bites have become a major financial burden for the insurance industry. In fact, the most recent claim statistic from the Insurance Information Institute showed that dog bites and dog-related injuries accounted for more than one third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2014, which amounted to over $530 million dollars and an average claim payout of nearly $32,000.

However, because actual costs could be much higher, you have to make sure your coverage is enough – just in case. For example, should the injured party be critically injured or maimed as a result of your dog attacking them, you could lose your home if your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy is limited to $100,000 liability coverage and you’re sued for millions.

Each May, in conjunction with National Dog Bite Prevention Week, insurance companies issue their list of breeds they deem to be dangerous and, thus, result in your possibly being denied coverage according to their criteria.

Below are 17 of the most commonly “blacklisted dog breeds” by insurance companies:

  1. American pit bull terrier
  2. American Staffordshire terrier
  3. Bull terrier
  4. Wolf hybrids
  5. Akitas
  6. Chow-chows
  7. Doberman pinschers
  8. Olde English bulldogs
  9. Rottweilers
  10. German shepherds
  11. Siberian huskies
  12. Alaskan malamutes
  13. Presa canarios
  14. Great Danes
  15. Boxers
  16. Saint Bernards
  17. Mastiffs

Of course, you may or may not agree with this list if your version of man’s best friend is on it, but you’re not the one making the final decision – your insurance company is.

Availability of coverage may differ by state and regulations. That said, in California, Farmers Insurance recently announced it would cease coverage for bites involving Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids because the three breeds were responsible for 25 percent of all dog bite claims in the state.

Remember – your homeowners insurance company holds all the cards. Granting you coverage to protect your home as well as your dog is entirely at their discretion. While they may not cancel your homeowners policy outright for owning a pit bull or other dog breed on the dangerous list, showing your insurer you’re a responsible dog owner can go a long way in your quest for coverage.

Previous incidents will be held against you. If you have had a dog bite claim in the past, your insurer may opt to not renew your policy, forcing you to get liability coverage elsewhere.

In the end, shop around. The minimum amount of liability coverage you should carry as part of your homeowners or renters policy is recommended at $100,000. Better yet, you may want to consider buying a separate $1,000,000 umbrella policy to protect yourself in the event your dog bites someone. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the typical policy is quite affordable, ranging from about $150 to $300 per year.

There are plenty of canine-friendly insurers out there, so, if your insurer decides to keep Fido out of your policy, it’s good to know you do have options.

Insurance terms: 

Insurance Terms Dictionary Agent: In insurance, the person authorized to represent the insurer in negotiating, servicing, or effecting insurance policies. Applicant: The party applying for an insurance policy. Application: A printed form developed by an insurer that includes questions about the prospective insured and the desired insurance coverage and limits. Auto Collision Coverage: Optional auto insurance which pays for damage to your car caused by collision with another car or object, or by rolling the car over. Frequently required if you have a car loan. Auto Comprehensive Physical Damage Coverage: Optional auto insurance which pays for damage to your auto caused by things other than collision or rolling the car over, such as fire, theft, vandalism, flood or hail. Frequently required if you have a car loan. Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: Pays when an insured person is legally liable for bodily injury or death caused by your vehicle or your operation of most non-owned vehicles. This coverage also pays for your legal defense if you are sued. Claim: A person's request for payment from an insurer for a loss covered by the insurance policy. Collision Coverage: Pays for loss to your covered vehicle when it collides with another object or overturns. We will also pay for a collision loss to any non-owned vehicle, or to a vehicle you have rented other than a vehicle rented for use in connection with your business or employment, while that vehicle is in your custody, or while you are operating it. Comprehensive Coverage: Pays for loss or damage to your covered vehicle caused by any event other than collision. This includes damages due to events such as fire, theft, windstorm, flood, and vandalism. We will also pay transportation and loss of use expenses under this coverage if your motor vehicle is stolen. Conditions: The part of your insurance policy that states the obligations of the person insured and those of the insurance company. Continuously Insured: Insurance coverage was in effect from an insurer or more than one insurer at all times, without a break or lapse in coverage for any reason. Contract: A legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. Declarations Page: The report from your insurance company listing: the types of coverage you have elected; the limit for each coverage; the cost for each coverage; the specified vehicles covered by the policy; the types of coverage for each vehicle covered by the policy; and other information applicable to the policy. Deductibles: The portion of the loss that the policyholder agrees to pay out of pocket, before the insurance company pays the amount they are obligated to cover. For example, if the covered claim is $1000 and your deductible is $250, you pay $250 and your company will pay $750. Deductibles help to keep insurance rates reasonable. Raising the amount of the deductible lowers the cost of insurance. Depreciation: Reduction in the value of property due to age and use. Endorsement: Attachment or addendum to an insurance policy; an endorsement changes the contract's original terms. Garaging Location: The ZIP code where your vehicle is parked when not in use and usually corresponds to your primary residence. Insurance Company: An organization that has been chartered by a governmental entity to transact the business of insurance. Insured: The person whose insurable interest is protected under an insurance policy. Insurer: See Insurance Company. Lapse: Termination of a policy due to nonpayment of premiums. Liability: A legal obligation to compensate a person harmed by another's acts or omissions. Liability Coverage: Insurance that provides compensation for a harm or wrong to a third party for which an insured is legally obligated to pay. Life Insurance: Insurance that pays a specified sum of money to designated beneficiaries if the insured person dies during the policy term. Limits: The most we will pay for a specific insurance coverage. You may choose the limit which meets your needs. Most states have laws that specify the minimum limits you must purchase. Loss: A claim either paid or payable due to the insurer's policy obligations. Medical Payments Coverage: Medical and funeral expense coverage for bodily injuries sustained from or while occupying an insured vehicle, regardless of the insured's negligence. Named Insured: The first person in whose name the insurance policy is issued. Negligence: Failure to use a generally acceptable level of care and caution. No-fault Insurance: A system of compensation enacted by law in many states under which indemnification is made by the insured's own insurance company regardless of who is at fault. Details of this system vary significantly from state to state. Occasional Driver: The person who is not the primary or principal driver of the vehicle. Peril: The cause of loss or damage. Personal Property Insurance: Protects against the loss of, or damage to property other than real property (real estate) caused by specific perils. Policy Expiration Date: The date when your current insurance policy expires. This date can be found on your current policy, Declaration (or "DEC") page, insurance identification card or recent cancellation notice. This date is not to be confused with the date of your next payment or when your renewal payment is due. Policy Term: The length of time that the policy is in force. Usually 6 months or a year. Primary Residence: The place where you will reside for the majority of your policy term. If you are a homeowner who does not reside in the home you own, please choose the "rent" or "other" option. Primary Use: What your vehicle is mainly used for: To/From Work If you use your vehicle to commute to and from your work and/or school. Business If your vehicle is used for one or all of the following: used to make sales calls used as vehicle for business trips to bank or post office, picking up supplies, going to different locations owned or leased by a partnership or corporation that have a business listed as and additional interest on the car Farm If your vehicle is used primarily on a farm, ranch or orchard Pleasure No others apply Policy: The written forms that make up the insurance contract between an insured and insurer. A policy includes the terms and conditions of the coverage, the perils insured or excluded, etc. Policy Declarations: The part of the insurance contract that lists basic underwriting information, including the insured's name, address and description of insured locations as well as policy limits. Policy Limits: The maximum amount an insured may collect or for which an insured is protected, under the terms of the policy. Policyholder: The person who buys insurance. Policyowner: An individual with an ownership interest in an insurance policy. Policy Period: The amount of time an insurance contract or policy lasts. Premium: The price for insurance coverage as described in the insurance policy for a specific period of time. Principal Driver: The person who drives the car most often. Proof of Loss: A sworn statement that usually must be furnished by the insured to an insurer before any loss under a policy may be paid. Property Damage Liability Coverage: Pays when an insured person is legally liable for damage to the property of others caused by your vehicle or your operation of most non-owned vehicles. This coverage also pays for your legal defense costs if you are sued. Reimbursement: The payment of an amount of money by an insurance policy for a covered loss that was initially paid by the insured or a third party. Reinstatement: The process by which a insurance company puts back in force a policy that has lapsed or has been canceled for nonpayment of premium. Riders: An addition to an insurance policy that becomes a part of the contract. Risk: The possibility or chance of loss or injury. Second Named Insured: The named insured or listed agent on a policy may request to designate any other person listed on the policy as a "second named insured". The second named insured has the same coverage under the policy as the named insured. Settlement: An agreement between a claimant to an insurance policy and the insurance company regarding the amount and method of a claim or benefit payment. Theft Limit (or Inside Policy Limits): The highest amount an insurance company will pay on certain items of personal property. For instance, some policies have a $5,000 limit for computers. Underwriting: The process of reviewing applications for coverage. Applications that are accepted are then classified by the underwriter according to the type and degree of risk. Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Coverage that pays for covered damage for bodily injury that an uninsured motorist is legally liable but unable to pay. VIN: The vehicle identification number (VIN) on your vehicle. This number is usually found on the dashboard of your vehicle on the driver's side, and is usually listed on the vehicle registration and title. The VIN number is a combination of letters and numbers 17 characters in length that can be used to identify the make, model, and year of your car.