Dogs come in all shapes and sizes

The American Kennel Club has recognized a staggering 195 dog breeds. Despite that, all dogs—whether a chihuahua or a bull mastiff—come from the same species, and you may forget that they descend from wolves. However, insurance companies haven’t forgotten the wild past of domesticated dogs, and it could impact your insurance premium.

When you purchase an insurance policy, you pay an insurance premium, which is based on many factors. One of those factors is the likelihood that a policyholder could suffer a loss. The higher the risk of loss, the higher the premium. For example, traditionally, policyholders with a pool or trampoline pay more than policyholders who do not have those amenities. How does that relate to dogs? Perhaps because of their wild, ferocious past, dogs are considered an additional risk by insurance companies, which means they may cause your insurance premiums to increase.

Typically, homeowners insurance or renters policy will provide coverage for liability arising out of dog ownership—usually related to a bite. According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurers $854 million in 2020. For that reason, if a dog has a higher risk of causing a loss, the premium will be impacted.

While all dogs are the same species, insurance companies address dogs in different ways. While New Jersey law prohibits insurance companies from acting discriminatorily toward people, they can consider animals when determining a homeowner’s or renter’s premium.

As such, many insurance companies will charge an increased premium based on the breed of a dog. Some even may exclude liability coverage for certain breeds of dog altogether. Typically, larger breeds (e.g., pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds) will lead to higher premiums or excluded coverage. Other insurance companies may make decisions on a case-by-case basis, which are dependent not on the breed of the dog, but on any actual, vicious propensities of an individual dog.

Do you have questions on how a dog might impact your homeowners or renters premium? Give our office a call today and we will be happy to assist you.

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