Homeowners insurance and "danger dogs"

We recently received a notice from our insurance company, that since our house has appreciated, we may want to consider increasing our coverage.

We agreed, and sent back in the forms.

Everything was fine, until we got a notice that they were cancelling our insurance effective 12/5 due to an “unacceptable risk or exposure.”

Ivylad called, and it turns out it’s our dog. Our half-chow/half-shepherd mix we got at the pound.

She’s in a fenced-in backyard and wears an electronic fence collar. She’s a good watch dog, but very friendly with visitors. If it seems she might be a bit exuberant with someone, we put her outside.

So, now we have to go shopping for new insurance. A friend of mine at work says that in Florida, rottweilers, chows, Dobermans, and pit bulls are considered deadly weapons.

If we were negligent pet owners, I could see their point. But Ember isn’t a full bred chow, and she’s safely fenced in.

For those FL homeowners that have so-called “danger dogs,” who do you have your insurance through? Have you had any problems with insurance dropping you because of your dog? Do you have any recourse?

Oh, and just so you know, getting rid of our pet is not an option.

I thought it was funny when we were going through the insurance process that they asked us if we had any pets. At the time we had goldfish, I was curious what having “pets” would do to insurance rates. I see now what they were after. IMO its shitty.

Get a different insurance company. Regarding recourse, it’s their job to discriminate within legal and commercially acceptable limits to reduce their risk exposure. It’s your job to find the best deal you can with a company that will accept higher risk dogs under it’s risk umbrella. I have known a fair number of people (esp children) over the years who have gotten nipped or bitten more seriously, by lovely, leashed, fenced, or otherwise perfectly well behaved dogs, which generated lawsuits and significant medical bills in some cases. If I was an insurance company I would screen out owners of higher risk dogs. To do otherwise would be fiscally irresponsible.

I would recommend going with the “mixed breed” description of your dog on your next application. As unfair as it is, breed discrimination is legal and you will be hard pressed to get insurance if you list chow OR shepherd on the application. “Mixed breed” is the truth, so no one can accuse you of being dishonest. Besides, if it’s a shelter dog, any breed description is a guess at best. You truly don’t know without a doubt that your pup has either of those breeds in her lineage.

All dogs can bite and I don’t believe there are any “higher risk” dogs, but I’m not the one underwriting your insurance.

Being that it’s a mixed breed that you got from the pound, could you withold the dog’s lineage from insurance companies? Could you, with a good heart, say “Rover is a mixed breed” and keep it at that?

Would they ask for more details? Could you say “I’m not exactly sure what breeds Rover descends from” with a clear conscience?

I’ve thought about that, but couldn’t the insurance company insist that we find out from the vet what breed she could be?

I think telling them she’s a mutt (which is true) might be an option.

What about the option of telling the insurance company not to insure us against dog bites?

When I renewed my homeowners policy I specifically asked my insurance guy about my dogs, because I have a german shepherd, a doberman and an airedale. He said there was no penalty for having them. I know other agencies do have restrictions, though. I’m not in Florida, I’m in Tennessee, and my insurance is through Farm Bureau.

StG

I don’t see how the insurance company could force you to guess what breed your dog is. I honestly don’t know what my dog is, I have some good guesses, but that’s all they are. Even my vet says there is no way to tell for sure.

If you know for sure that your dog is at least part something (like his mom was a pure chow or whatever) you should probably say so, but if it is just a guess I wouldn’t.

IANA actuary, but I have great doubts the insurance company would pursue iron-clad assurances that your dog was not a given breed. Besides, I’m 99.9999% sure that a vet cannot conclusively pin down a mixed-breed dog’s lineage just from examination.

The vet can give an educated guess, yes – but they can’t prove it. Heck, actually, involving the vet’s discretion puts the vet in a position of liability. What if the vet is wrong about what breeds went into your mixed breed, and your dog bit someone? Might your vet then be on the hook for some damages because he/she didn’t properly identify the “danger” inherent in your dog?

That would lead me to think that a vet would not necessarily accept an insurance-company edict to determine Rover’s lineage. I really don’t think an insurance company would pursue this issue that vehemently. Again, IANA actuary.

Our insurance guy told me to list our shephard mix (a shelter pup too so no way to prove what she is) as just mixed… shephards, pitts, rotties and dobermans will hurt your ability to get insurance.

Even though I do not presently have a dog, I refuse to get insurance from a company that blacklists breeds.

The AKC has compiled a list of some insurance company policies here. There’s another page here which may have information that the first link lacks.

Thanks, Gulo. Those links were very helpful.

Is there definitive evidence that one breed is more aggessive than another? Or is it just how the dog is treated and raised? Can for instance, a pit bull or a Rottweiler be trained to be gentle?

Try State Farm, that’s what we have and we own a Rottweiler. Their policy is based on the individual dog’s behavior, not its breed.

There have been other threads that discuss dog breeds and whether some are more violent than others. I believe what often happens is that people who are looking for a violent dog or ‘watchdog’ get those breeds and train them accordingly, thus the cycle continues.

In my own experience, I frequent a dog park where I have gotten to know many Rotties, and every single one has had a responsible owner, and each one was kind and gentle, and very affectionate. Any reservations I used to have about Rotties are gone now that I have seen how loving these dogs can be. I have also seen aggressive dogs of many breeds and sizes.

Some breeds do have inherent instincts more than others, some naturally like to herd, or protect, or retrieve or whatever. So it’s not like the owner can program a dog to be anything he wishes, the same owner can have dogs with very different personalities. A responsible owner knows to work with their dog’s traits to teach it to be happy and safe. I do think that with irresponsible handling and abuse/neglect, almost any dog can become violent.

Well, my dog is a Rottweiler, and she is a certified therapy dog (allows her to go into hospitals and nursing homes to visit patients). She also has an obedience title from the AKC as well as a Canine Good Citizen certificate. She is a good girl. I owned another Rottweiler previously, and she was equally as sweet.

These dogs need to be owned by someone who understands them and is willing to put in lots of work and time training and socializing. It’s the yahoos who don’t do anything with their dog, or worse, encourage it to misbehave, that have given the breed a bad name.

There are so many factors that can affect any dog. Breeding, training, socialization, abuse etc. The breeds on the ban lists are usually the ones that can do the most damage with a bite.

I’ve met many gentle Pits and Rotties. I’ve met some vicious Cockers and Jacks as well. I’m one of those “Blame the deed and not the breed” types that try to never judge a dog by it’s cover. The only breed that makes me wary are Cockers, actually. I’ve been attacked by them twice.

But not many people are buying Cockers and using them for macho purposes so I doubt they’ll be on any breed ban lists in the near future. :smiley:

As far as what you list your dog as on the application. . .some companies actually send people out to your house periodically to do a sort of drive-by assessment or check-up. This happened to my parents, and the guy noticed our Rottweiler in the yard (which we had gotten after the insurance, and hadn’t even dreamed we’d have to report). They got The Letter stating coverage will be terminated. No questions, just the letter. The point is, if your dog looks like a Chow (or a GSD, as they are sometimes considered “dangerous,” too), such an assessment may be made no matter what you write on the form. “Pit Bull,” for example–there are several breeds that are all often referred to as pit bulls, and probably a billion mixed breed combinations that are also considered pit bulls. Owners of these dogs may write “mixed breed” all they want and be totally honest about it, but ins. companies (and even municipalities who have restrictions about what kind of dog you can own) are the ones who will decide just by looking at it whether it “looks” like a pit bull. It’s ridiculous, and it sucks.

This is the part that’s confusing me. House insurance is to cover loss of belongings and cost of rebuilding in the case that your house gets destroyed. House appreciation is almost completely related to the land your house is on (unless, of course, you’ve done a bit of building-on), which doesn’t get “destroyed” in most cases (unless you live in a mudslide area).

Simply because your $200k is now worth $300K (or whatever), it doesn’t mean that you need another $100K in insurace, unless building costs have risen remarkably.

-lv

The only time I have ever been bitten, it was by one of those little yippie dogs–and I was doing something I shouldn’t ahve been–reaching under a chair for the dog (but in my defence, I was like 4 and have learned my lesson).

I would also go with “mixed breed” if possible. I don’t even think that there is genetic testing for dogs. And if there is, it would be prohibitively expensive and probably not breed accurate. I may be completely off about this, though. Any one know for definite?