BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — All homeowners and homebuyers need homeowners insurance. But owning a pit bull can not only make it harder to get home insurance, it could possibly cost you more.
According to a QuoteWizard report, homeowners insurers consider pit bulls to be high risk due to the potential for bites and attacks. Pit bulls are grouped into the category of large dog breeds that some insurers say are capable of causing more damage and therefore are at higher risk for higher claims, according to the report.
Some companies will decline insurance or increase the price of the policy if a pit bull lives on the property.
These policies affect puppies and people who are just looking for a place to live.
“We have had adopted dogs that have been returned due to owners/insurance companies,” said Nicole Gitzke of the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center. “We recently learned that Huskies have been added to the list and that was a surprise to all of us.”
The most common breeds considered high risk by home insurance companies include Pit Bulls, Pit Bull Mixes, Rottweilers, Akitas, Presa Canarios, Mastiffs, German Shepherds, and Wolf Hybrids.
“Our shelter is full of German Shepherds, Huskies and Pit Bulls,” Gitzke added. “These are dogs that face an unfair stigma and spend a lot more time at the shelter because most tenants can’t have them.”
California insurance companies paid the most money for dog bite claims in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That amount amounted to $135,900,066 for 2,103 claims. Florida paid the second most in the nation with a total of $68,062,085.
“Unfortunately, there are quite a few races that are discriminated against when it comes to renters and home insurance policies. It targets a race because of a stigma, rather than on a case-by-case basis,” Gitzke said.
But there are companies that insure “high risk” breeds. State Farm doesn’t ask about your dog’s breed at all, while Allstate and USAA cover high-risk breeds on a case-by-case basis, according to the report.
While some states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, have passed laws that prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on an animal’s breed, it’s not yet a national practice.
Another QuoteWizard report said many insurance companies have received backlash over breed restrictions. Organizations such as the American Kennel Club, the Humane Society of the United States and Best Friends have called on companies to ban the practice as it raises concerns about how people are treated based on the breed type of their pet.
However, if you can prove that your pitty or pup is a good girl or boy, the aforementioned insurance companies say they will give your dog the benefit of the doubt.
Ways to help show that your puppy is a good dog:
- Enroll your “high-risk breed” in a dog training class.
- Obtain the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate from the American Kennel Club. This is a great and respected way to demonstrate good behavior from your dogs.
- Spay or neuter your dogs. There is evidence to suggest that a fixed dog is more docile and well-behaved.
- Keep up with your dog’s vaccinations and vet visits.
You can also minimize risk entirely by following these tips:
- Learn about your dog’s stressors and trigger behaviors to avoid them.
- Socialize your “high risk breed” with other dogs. This reduces the chance that he will feel threatened around other dogs and strangers.
- Leash train your dog.
- Train your dog to drop toys when playtime gets too tough. This way he will know the signal to stop.
- Do not leave your dog in the care of strangers or people who have children. Children don’t instantly know their dog’s limits and can accidentally provoke it.
If you can’t find a home insurance company that’s willing to work with your “high-risk” breed, the next step would be to look into an umbrella policy or dog liability insurance, according to the report.
“We encourage everyone to do their research before adopting any animal. If you’re interested in getting a Rottweiler, make sure you know what you’re getting into,” Gitzke said. “Homeowners and insurance companies can turn it down.”
“We don’t agree with that, but we never want an animal to end up in the shelter,” he added.