Dogs and your home insurance

There’s nothing like a California beach and a cute dog chasing a piece of driftwood thrown by its owner.  It’s an iconic image of relaxation and fun, isn’t it? But when it comes to getting California home insurance, that cute dog may be a liability.

How can that be?  It is because dogs can bite—any dog. But some dogs tend to bite more than others. Or, more accurately, claims are filed for dog bites more often on some breeds than on others.  And that unofficial list is used to determine the cost of a dog owner’s premium—or whether they will get covered at all with California home insurance.

Here are some of the dogs that are deemed bite risks:

German shepherd

Rottweiler

Great Dane

Pit Bull

Malamute

Akita

Husky

Doberman

Presa canario

Wolf hybrid

There are California home insurance companies that won’t cover you for dog bites. Other companies will make you pay more. And still others might require you to either enroll your dog in some training or require them to be muzzled when around other people.  It is dependent on the individual company and how they feel about covering dog bite claims.

The temperament of your dog may be excellent. She or he may be loving and adorable, but none of that matters if your dog is considered a bite risk.

Is this discrimination?  It isn’t.  It is a business decision based on risk, because that is how insurers make all their decisions. How likely is it that your dog will bite someone and that a claim will be filed? That is the top question that companies will ask and some don’t want to take any risk themselves.

Now, the list is not an official one. You won’t see it on an agent’s desk. But nonetheless, it is guidance used when reviewing a consumer’s application for coverage.

Even mixed breeds containing one of the high-risk dog breeds is considered high-risk itself. And if you fail to inform the company that you have such a dog, you can expect that they will not cover you should your dog bite.

So what should you do? Be as informed as possible about how companies considers handling dogs on this list. It is something you need to consider before you get your coverage and not after you are forced to file a claim because a victim has sued.