I was denied home owners insurance, because of my dog

My husband, children and I have lived in this nice middle class single-family home for 11 years. It has no major structural issues, and we’ve never missed a mortgage payment. We are both gainfully employed and make a stable salary. We’ve never once made a claim on our home-owners insurance.

So when I started looking into switching home-owners insurance (after being with the same company for all of those 11 years), I figured we were the kind of people insurance companies would trip over themselves to attract. My employer offers a group discount to get insurance through Liberty Mutual, so I called them up. We went through all of the information and all was fine until they asked me if I had a dog.

I told them yes, we have one wonderful dog who we adopted from the pound 7 years ago. They wanted to know what her breed is, and I truthfully replied that I don’t know. She’s a mix of this and that and something else. They again wanted to know her breed and seemed totally perplexed that I don’t know. I’ve never cared, truthfully, she is gentle and sweet and never shown the slightest aggression to the 4 kids or 3 cats she lives with. So they kept pestering me about my best guess as to what she’s a mix of, and I said, “maybe part shepard?” Well we were immediately denied the possibility of coverage because we had a ‘dangerous breed’ in the house with children under the age of 12.

It pisses me off because if I’d said she was a poodle with murder in her heart, that would have been fine. But if she may have some shepard in her (or God forbid I’d said pit bull or rotweiler or doberman), it doesn’t matter that we’ve had her for 7 years without any issues. It doesn’t matter that she’s raised my kids as much as I have. It doesn’t matter that she is the most gentle, polite dog I’ve ever met. She’s a dangerous breed.

Insurance companies do not want to take the risk. It’s not about your dog. It’s about the breed of your dog.

11 Riskiest Dog Breeds for Homeowners and Renters

“Shepherd” is pretty much the default breed assigned to dogs up for adoption in shelters. This is my oldest dog, Flash (who, sadly, we recently had to have put to sleep at the ripe old age of 16). He doesn’t look anything like a shepherd, but that’s what his papers said; “Shepherd Mix”.

WTF? They think malamutes, huskies, and Great Danes are more dangerous than freaking wolf-hybrids?! (Never mind the others; I picked mals, huskies, and danes because they’re not breeds that I think of as having a bad rap in the way that “pit bulls” do.)

My pitbulls have always been listed as “terrier mixes” on my insurance. To a fault, every single one of them has been gentle, friendly, outgoing and the opposite of dangerous.

My beagle-mix was the dangerous one when it came to biting. And I’ve been bitten seriously enough to go to the hospital three times - each time by a labrador.

I wrote an op-ed piece for the local newspaper years ago about this very subject. At the time, I owned a wonderful female Rottweiler, who was not only a Canine Good Citizen (an actual designation) but also a certified animal assisted therapy dog. Sweetest, gentlest, most patient dog on the planet. Trained to stay calm in difficult circumstances. The only homeowner’s insurance I could get was through State Farm. No one else would even talk to me. In my op-ed, I pointed out that, statistically, more people are bitten annually by cocker spaniels and labs than by any other breed. The distinction, the animal control specialist I talked to made, was that cockers and labs might bite, but Rotties and pit bulls are more like to maul someone. I understand that, but to tar every dog of a particular breed with the same brush seems patently unfair to me.

What I don’t understand is why won’t the insurance company issue insurance with a rider exempting coverage for any and all conceivable damage by the dog? I asked insurance agents at the time but they just shrugged and said they didn’t do that.

I don’t know about Great Danes, but malamutes and huskies both have the potential to arbitrarily nip. Most won’t – both breeds love people – but the potential is enough to put both breeds on the list. There’s also the size issue with mals: They can accidentally knock over a child or an elderly person without meaning to in a burst of “OMGI’msohappytoseeyou!” glee.

My now-husband had the sweetest, most biddable mal when he first moved up here. He had a horrible time finding a rental because of the mal. The family the ultimately rented to him had to check their homeowners policy (it was a two-family house) to make sure mals weren’t one of the “flagged” breeds. It was far enough down on the list that the insurance company said it was fine as long as the mal wasn’t left alone. Thankfully my now-husband worked from home. The mal never presented any problems, and probably never would have if she had been left alone during the day.

But she’s a mutt. Maybe some shepard, maybe not. Maybe some border collie, maybe some chow… truthfully who knows. Not me, the shelter doesn’t know, probably her former owner didn’t know. Most dogs aren’t pure breeds, so it’s really dumb to make me guess, then deny coverage based on that random guess.

My insurance guy knows I have german sheperds and dobermans. He has no problem with it. I have my home insured by Farm Bureau.

StG

Presa Canario is number 7?!? That list was compiled by a complete eedgit. What a maroon!

Why not explain the situation to your vet and ask if he can provide a professional opinion of your dog’s likely ancestry.That would have more weight with the insurance company than your layman’s estimation. If you are on good terms, surely he can avoid saying any of the magic words that stop you from getting insurance.

Farm Bureau is pretty cool. Half as much State Farm, too.

Post a picture. We’ll tell you what kind of dog she is, and next time anyone asks, you can say you “read it on the internet”.

Do you have small children in the house as well?

He looks like a German Shepherd.

http://images.pictureshunt.com/pics/g/german_shepherd-13072.jpg

That is really weird. Insurance is a numbers game, they are just trying to avoid claims.

Just because they have crazy rules, keep the momentum and shop around for insurance, you might save some money.

It’s likely not what they ‘think’ but what they’ve had the most claims against. They want your money, they really do, but you can’t argue with the actuaries and the guys that cut the checks. If they have 10 millions dollars worth of payouts with the word Great Dane on the report and 1 million dollars worth of payouts with the word Poodle…then of course they’re going to say it’s a higher risk.

Not likely to carry more weight than a checkbox on the form. You know, where it says, “uninsurable breeds.”

My advice is find another insurance company, and if necessary, lie. You have a tiny lapdog, right? Send them a generic picture.

Then if your dog bites someone, you’re fucked because you lied. Otherwise, no problem.

OK, here she is

http://amysfounddog.shutterfly.com/pictures/14

I’m not sure if just the picture will come up, but she is black with tan markings (not the pit bull who I also have pictures of in that album, that’s a dog we found and I was trying to find its owner… and I did).

Aww, she looks like a live teddy bear!

I’ve heard of dogs like her being called ‘brown dogs’. If you let a group of purebreds breed randomly for a couple of generations, the resulting mutts tend to be medium sized and mostly brown (though often with black markings), with short to medium length hair. It’s a decent average of all the breed types, I guess. Since most places have to label a mutt as something, and brown dogs kinda fit the same description as German Shepherds, they tend to get called ‘shepherd mixes’.

I’m no expert, but her face, ears, and coat look more Australian Shepherd than German to me. Maybe if you call insurance back and clarify the type of shepherd they’ll be happier?

Breed discrimination sucks. Especially since reports are usually based on the victim’s observation - kid got bitten by a medium sized short haired dog with a blocky muzzle? Definitely a pit bull. Couldn’t possibly have been a lab, everyone knows that all labs like kids, even little hyper ones that run up and stick their hands in their faces. So down it goes in the records, another vicious, vicious pit bull.