I am a big proponent of dog insurance. One of my dogs had a spleen related injury and needed medical treatment that ran up to 1000’s of dollars. Thankfully, I had purchased insurance a few weeks before so the total out of pocket expense, after deductions, came to only a few hundred dollars. It is very common for dogs to be given up when the owners cannot afford treatment; a sad situation that could have been avoided had the owners purchased insurance. Pet insurance is not perfect though. You must thoroughly investigate the company and their offerings before buying. Many companies have denied coverage on lame technicalities. One of the greatest drawbacks of the system is denial of coverage for certain aggressive breeds. Let us take a look at dog friendly homeowners insurance as well as insurance companies’ list of aggressive dog breeds.
Dog breeds not covered by Insurance companies
According to many insurance companies, most dogs are dangerous. Some policies won’t cover any injuries caused by a dog or pet. Dog injuries are number one reason why many providers lose their policies. Even one small dog injury can cost the company thousands of dollars. Some companies won’t issue a policy if you have one of the following dogs – even if it is kept tied up.
1. Pit Bulls
Pit bull is a blanket term given to three types of dogs in America: The American Pit Bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier. If you search for the online government list of dangerous dogs’ registry, you will find the list of dangerous dogs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. However, legislatures always target Pit bulls. Different states have different ordinances for Pit bull owners. As per Denver ordinance, owners need to have a pit bull license, valid rabies vaccination, dog license, tattoo or other marking on animal, leash and muzzle (the pet must be in secure enclosure in the owner’s property) and the owner must be at least 21 years of age. The owner must also maintain $100,000 in liability coverage for this animal. Some insurance companies are pet friendly and do not have restrictions. State Farm is a dog friendly home owners insurance that covers pit bulls. Other companies friendly towards pet owners and without breed restrictions are USAA and Nationwide.
In March 2009, the US Army and Marine Corps prohibited Dobermans (along with other aggressive breeds)in US military housing units owning to risk of bites. Thankfully, companies like State Farm do cover owners having Dobermans. State Farm has a policy of ‘No Dog Left Behind’ and that all dog breeds deserve a chance. So if you are a Doberman Pinscher owner please call up State Farm for coverage related information.
3. Chow Chows
An association of liability lawyers has listed pit bulls, Chow Chows, Akitas and Rottweilers are the most aggressive dog breeds. In March 2009, Marine US Corps disallowed housing units to keep pit bulls, Rottweilers, chow chows and Akitas owing to risk of bites. Dog breeds ineligible for dog bites coverage by most insurance companies are Pit bulls, Rottweiler, Chow chows, and Akitas. Chow Chows are known to show their aggression and dominance in front of other dogs.
Pyrenean mastiffs were once bred to fight off thieves and wolves. Therefore, this breed has a natural tendency of aggression towards strangers as well as other dogs/animals. Owners and handlers need to recognize this instinct in Mastiffs and properly channelize it to positive means. While aggression in dogs, to an extent, can come in handy, especially when they are used for guarding or watching property or flock, uncontrolled aggression can be very problematic. Aggression must never be tolerated. Sometimes, dogs become so aggressive that even family members are scared of them. Growling, baring teeth can be very difficult to handle. Aggression is a show of dominance and your mastiff should not consider itself as the alpha when it comes to its role in family. Some home insurance companies refuse to cover Mastiffs or bullmastiffs.
Akita is a popular Japanese breed. They are usually non aggressive till the age of 1 year after which they become aggressive and dominant. At maturity, Akitas can get aggressive towards other animals as well as strange people. The breed standard also allows aggression towards other dogs. Not all Akitas are dangerous. Remember Hachi-ko? The famous dog accompanied his master everyday to the station and would wait for him to return. One day the master never came back but Hachi continued to wait at the station every day for almost 12 years. The town then erected his statue at the station in his memory after he passed. Despite this heartwarming story, many insurance companies have blacklisted this dog breed.
6. Wolf Hybrids
These include the offspring of wolf-like dogs crossed with wolf dog breeds or even wolves. The resulting breeds resemble wolves and have all their characteristics including aggression. Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds and Hierran Wolf dog, Saarloos wolf dog, Spitz, and Eskimo dogs are some of the wolf dogs that insurance companies are wary of. Speak to your insurance company if they will insure these pets. German shepherds need plenty of training and socialization to prevent over protectiveness. They have natural guard dog instincts and do not like to be left alone for long periods of time owing to the fact that they are people’s dogs.
A Rottweiler on open chain in the yard can encourage aggression. Across the country, insurance agencies are denying homeowner’s insurance to Rottweiler owners. Neutering can help lessen canine aggression- an important consideration in case of a dog like Rottweiler. Rotts are by nature usually pretty mellow but they have an instinct to protect their owners. Strict socialization and training in early age can help prevent aggression towards other dogs and humans.
8. Great Danes
These are usually mild tempered dogs but many home insurance companies refuse coverage owing to their large size and the damage they can do. State Farm, Nationwide and USAA usually cover these pets.
The above is not a complete list of dog breeds that insurance companies blacklist. You can contact your home insurance company for more details. Dog friendly homeowners’ insurance companies are State Farm, Nationwide USAA, Farmer’s, and AMICA. Note that some of them require a waiver or rider to indemnify the company in case of bite or incidence. Some companies also demand pet evaluation. Coverage and dog breed limitations/restrictions also vary from state to state.