What Pit Bull Owners Should Know About Home Insurance

Nicki Escudero
Nicki Escudero
Contributing Writer
6

Most people’s dogs are like a member of the family. But dog accidents can happen, such as a dog injuring a guest at your home or damaging your neighbor’s property. According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability claims due to dog-related injuries like dog bites cost homeowner insurers $797 million in 2019. The average cost per claim increased by 14.7% year-over-year. 

Homeowners insurance can provide you with coverage for events that make you liable for property or personal damage. But if the damage is caused by certain dog breeds, like a pit bull, you may not be covered.

Pit bulls are large dogs and may be considered dangerous by some insurers. According to a 2019 study of dog bites published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, injuries from pit bulls were more frequent and more severe. 

Compared to “safer” dog breeds that are smaller and are considered family-friendly, like the Cavalier King Charles spaniel or bichon frise, large dogs with higher incidences of attacks like pit bulls and rottweilers are typically flagged by insurance companies and can result in higher rates or denied coverage. 

If you have a pit bull or think you might get one in the future, look for homeowners insurance that includes pit bull insurance. This way, you’re covered for any type of accidents that may happen, whether caused by a pit bull or not. 

Some insurers may not provide coverage for pit bulls at all, while others may just charge a higher premium to provide coverage. What should pit bull owners know about homeowners insurance? Read this guide for information.

Why Do Insurers Care About Dog Breed?

Some insurers, like State Farm, say, “It’s not the breed, it’s the bite.” Any dog can bite out of fear or stress. Small dogs can sometimes be the most vicious.

However, some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds, such as pitbulls. “Dogs, for some insurers, are viewed as a higher risk because of the claims experience a company might have with that breed,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute. 

Other companies consider homeowners insurance for dog owners on a case-by-case basis. That’s why it’s imperative for you to talk with your homeowners insurance company or agent before getting a pitbull to see what, if any, coverage they will offer you in the event someone in your home receives a dog bite. 

Some insurers increase personal liability coverage premiums when a homeowner has a pit bull in the home. Personal liability coverage covers personal injury and property damage costs when you’re found at-fault for an incident. 

[ Read: The Best Pet Insurance ]

How home insurance companies restrict pit bull owners

Over the past several decades, pit bulls have been more prevalent in dog attack cases. A CDC review of dog attacks that resulted in human deaths in the U.S. between 1979 to 1994 found that the pit bull breed was responsible for the majority of attacks. DogsBite.org reports between 2005 and 2018, pit bulls contributed to 66% of American deaths caused by dogs. A 2020 report by 12 News found medical studies conclude pit bull attacks pose a greater risk of death or injury to humans compared to other biting dogs.

Because of hard statistics like these, and despite the fact that many pit bulls are very harmless, home insurance providers generally view pit bulls as riskier. When a pit bull injures or kills someone, the insurer is obligated to pay for medical bills, funeral costs, and other potential damages. That causes some providers to deny homeowners insurance altogether, or raise their rates when you have a pit bull.

Content Reveal: Dog breeds insurers won’t commonly cover

  • Doberman pinschers
  • German shepherds
  • Pit bulls
  • Rottweilers
  • Staffordshire terriers
  • Wolf hybrids

Pit bull-friendly home insurance options

Alternative ways to insure your pit bull

If your chosen homeowners insurance provider will not provide coverage for your pit bull, you may have other options. One is umbrella insurance. 

Before bringing a pitbull or other dog breed into your home, speak with your homeowners insurance company or agent to see how they approach coverage for dogs. For instance, “some will cover a pet if the owner takes the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior or if the dog is restrained with a muzzle, chain or cage,” Worters says. 

Dog owners also should socialize their pet, which can help prevent their dog from biting. “Socializing your pet helps your dog feel at ease in different situations,” Worters says. “By introducing your dog to people and other animals while it’s a puppy, it feels more comfortable in different situations as it gets older.” 

In addition, practice responsible pet ownership by not subjecting your dog to situations that could result in a dog bite. “Under certain circumstances, any dog might bite, regardless of breed,” Worters says. “Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, but most commonly as a reaction to something.” These could include:

  • The dog is trying to defend itself or its territory
  • It is scared, startled or feels threatened
  • Is trying to protect something of value, such as their puppies, their food, a toy or their bed
  • Illness

Many dogs also like to nip and bite during play, which should be discouraged. “Even though nipping during play might be fun for the dog, it can be dangerous for people,” Worters says. “It’s a good idea to avoid wrestling or playing tug-of-war with your dog. These types of activities can make your dog overly excited, which may lead to a nip or a bite.” 

If your chosen homeowners insurance provider will not provide coverage for your pit bull, you may have other options. One is umbrella insurance. 

Umbrella insurance is personal liability insurance that covers claims that exceed regular homeowners insurance coverage. It covers the policyholder, as well as other members of the household. Some umbrella insurance policies may exclude dog accidents. 

Another option you have is canine liability insurance, which covers accidents caused by dogs.

Umbrella policy

You can get umbrella insurance for coverage when your policy limits are exhausted, or for claims that are excluded by other homeowners liability policies. Umbrella insurance covers injuries, property damage, certain lawsuits, and personal liability situations.

Canine liability insurance

Canine liability insurance, also called animal liability insurance or pet liability insurance, provides coverage for injuries caused by your dog or pet. This type of coverage compensates victims, not you or members of your household.

FAQ

Do pit bulls increase your rates?

Some insurers will look at the history of the dog when determining premiums, while others will make a determination on breed alone. In some cases, having a pit bull may prevent you from getting homeowners insurance approval at all. 

Do I need to tell my insurance company I got a dog?

Yes. If you fail to inform your insurance provider that you have a dog that’s considered a “dangerous breed,” like a pit bull, it may deny your claim because you omitted information. Even worse; any claim you make, whether it’s related to your dog or liability, could be denied because you hid information. 

How much is insurance on a pit bull?

The answer depends on whether the insurance company is considering your dog’s history, the breed, or a combination of factors. You can get a free homeowners insurance quote from State Farm online, as well as get homeowners insurance quotes online from Allstate, Amica, Chubb, Nationwide, and USAA to compare.

About the Authors

Nicki Escudero

Nicki Escudero Contributing Writer

Nicki Escudero is a freelance writer and journalist with more than 18 years of experience in the publishing industry, writing for international publications such as USA Today, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, American Art Collector magazine and the Arizona Republic. She is passionate about helping readers discover helpful tips that lead to happier, healthier lives. A former Australian expat, Nicki has a passion for world travel and loves to learn about new cultures.