By Michele C. Hollow

If you have a pit bull, a German shepherd, a husky, a chow, an Akita, a Doberman or a rottweiler, there's a good chance that it will be difficult to find affordable homeowner's insurance.

Deborah Becker, an agent for State Farm, seems to inherit a lot of clients from other companies "because State Farm won't refuse insurance based on a dog's breed," she explains. "Ohio is an exception; that state defines pit bulls as a ‘vicious dog.' In general, an owner is responsible for any damage a dog does, whether the dog is provoked or not, which is where liability coverage on a homeowners' insurance policy kicks in." She adds: "In 2009, State Farm paid out $90.1 million in dog bite liability claims in the U.S., making the cost of the average claim about $25,000."

A dog bite is a homeowner claim, and even if it's a minor bite, the insurance company is obligated to defend the homeowner if he or she gets sued over the bite. Lawsuits result in legal expenses that insurance companies want to avoid.

Getting Coverage

Pet owners who do not qualify for coverage under traditional insurance policies can apply for dog owner liability insurance, available from special-risk underwriters. Pet liability insurance covers the cost of damage, injury or death caused by the pet. If you do not qualify for traditional homeowner's insurance because of your dog's breed, obtaining pet liability insurance is vital, as most states will hold the dog owner liable for the cost of damage done to individuals or property.

You can also enroll your dog in dog obedience classes. If you can show that your dog is well-trained, an exception may be made.


Michele C. Hollow is a journalist and author who specializes in writing about animal welfare. Her blog, Pet News and Views, covers pet care, wildlife, and people who work with and on the behalf of animals.

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