A new puppy is an exciting addition to any family, bringing a lifetime of unconditional love. Unfortunately, there are several breeds of dogs that insurance companies don't find as cute and fuzzy as others -- Rottweilers are near the top of this list. A 20-year study of dog bite fatalities conducted by the Center for Disease Control pinned the responsibility for 39 deaths on this breed; only pit bulls caused more fatalities. A handful of major insurers will cover Rottweilers, but because of their relative high risk for expensive bite injuries, these companies generally require a special rider or additional premium.
Insurance Companies and Dogs
Insurers are increasingly wary about large dogs because of the expense involved with dog injuries. According to the Chicago Tribune, more than one-third of the $413 million in claims against homeowners insurance policies in 2010 was caused by dog bites. This figure doesn't include claims from people injured when large dogs jumped up and knocked them over or caused injury by other means. Insurance companies often target those breeds that have already cost them significantly.
Finding Insurance with a Rottweiler
Despite industry-wide reservations, a few insurers will still cover families with Rottweilers with a rider that carries an additional price tag. You may have to shop around to find one of these companies or ask your insurance agent to help you. It is not a good idea to deny your Rottweiler when getting your policy -- if Spike were to bite or accidentally hurt someone, you could be liable for the entire expense involved in a lawsuit. Worst-case scenario, you should be able to purchase homeowners insurance that excludes damages caused by your dog. You would then need to purchase canine liability insurance to ensure any injury caused by your dog won't break the family's budget.
In Their Best Light
Depending on the laws in your state, your insurance company may give you and your dog a chance to prove the dog is not a bite risk. A letter from your veterinarian attesting to the character of your dog, a certificate from training classes or a AKC Canine Good Citizen award can prove your Rottweiler is well-trained and receiving proper care. Neglected dogs are more likely to bite strangers than are beloved canine companions.
Canine Liability Insurance
Canine liability insurance protects your family from lawsuits in the event your dog were to bite, whether or not he was provoked. When your homeowners policy won't cover your dog, canine liability insurance will, no matter the breed. Only a few companies carry this special product, however, so you will have to ask for it specifically. In addition to covering dog-related injuries on your property, the policy typically covers your dog when he's away from home (a time of additional stress to animals that are not accustomed to traveling).
Insurance Industry Least Wanted Dogs
Dogs that are most likely to cause problems with homeowner's insurance are those that have appeared on the Center for Disease Control's special report on dog bite attacks between 1979 and 1998. The most commonly excluded dogs are purebreds or mixes of the following 11 breeds: pit bulls / Straffordshire terriers, Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, German shepherds, chow chows, Great Danes, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian huskies and wolf hybrids. If you are considering one of these breeds, check with your insurance agent first to insure your policy will cover your new family member.
- Money Q&A: Dangerous Dog Breeds and Your Insurance
- American Kennel Club: Tips on Finding Homeowners' Insurance
- Massachusettes Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Homeowners Insurance
- The Chicago Tribune: Dogs Take a Bite Out of Insurance
- Einhorn Insurane Agency: What Does Dog Liability Insurance or Canine Liability Insurance Cover?
- Forbes Magazine: 11 Riskiest Dog Breeds for Homeowners and Renters
- Centers for Disease Control: Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998
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