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Owning a pit bull means that you're responsible for damage it causes, whether it's digging a hole in a neighbor's yard or biting someone. For most dog owners, a homeowners or renters insurance policy provides coverage against these actions. However, some insurers deny coverage specifically to pit bull owners, while those that do provide coverage often set up restrictions.
Do home and renters insurance cover pit bulls?
The liability portion of most home and renters insurance policies provides financial protection against damage or injuries caused by your pets. However, insurance companies apply different rules to pit bulls.
While some, such as State Farm, don't have any dog breed restrictions, insurers like American Family deny all liability coverage for incidents involving pit bulls. In these cases, hiding your pit bull is not an option: If you fail to inform your insurance provider that you own a "dangerous breed," it may have legal grounds to deny any claim you make — even claims not related to liability.
If you already have an existing home insurance policy and recently became the owner of a pit bull, you should verify whether your policy has any breed exclusions. Furthermore, you'll want to verify that dog bites are covered on and off your property. Some policies cover dog bites that happen on walks or trips outside your home or apartment.
States where insurance must accept pit bulls
Breed blacklisting has been outlawed in some states, like Michigan, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania. In those states, insurers are legally prohibited from canceling your coverage based on your dog's breed. However, most other states allow insurance companies to provide and deny coverage to dog owners as they see fit. Pit bulls are among the most commonly rejected dog breeds by home insurance companies.
Pit-bull-friendly home and renters insurance options
Fortunately for pit bull owners, there are a few homeowners and renters insurance companies that don't blacklist pit bulls. Instead, these companies look at an individual dog's past behavior to assess insurance risk and are considered some of the best homeowners or renters insurance companies that cover pit bulls.
Unless your pit bull has bitten someone in the past, you're eligible to receive homeowners insurance coverage through State Farm. The company considers each dog's personal bite history to assess its insurance risk rather than having a rule that impacts every dog from a specific breed. State Farm offers pit bull owners access to homeowners and renters insurance policies.
Although USAA restricts its policies to U.S. military members and their families, it is one of the best insurance companies for pit bull owners. USAA's homeowners and renters insurance policies don't enforce any dog breed restrictions. Additionally, the company determines whether to provide coverage based on a dog's previous bite history, meaning that most pit bulls with a clean track record qualify for coverage.
In some states, Auto-Owners does not restrict customers from owning pit bulls — in fact, one national insurer directs customers with pit bulls to Auto-Owners. In other states, however, Auto-Owners will limit coverage for incidents caused by pit bulls, or outright deny you a policy. We recommend you call to confirm whether the insurer will offer coverage.
Do pit bulls increase your insurance rates?
Whether you're purchasing a new policy or letting your current insurer know about a new pit bull, you should expect your homeowners or renters insurance rates to increase. The increase is highly dependent on the insurance company that you select and your pit bull's past history.
Rates nationwide increased about 1% on average if a policyholder had an "aggressive" breed of dog, according to a ValuePenguin study. That category of dogs can include breeds like rottweilers, Dobermans and chow chows.
Pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive dogs and, as a result, are seen as posing a greater liability risk. Dog bite claims are incredibly costly to insurance companies. In a recent year, dog bites and dog-related injuries accounted for a third of all homeowners insurance liability claims. The cost to insurance companies as a result of these claims was in excess of $600 million.
Alternatives for pit bull insurance
If you're satisfied with your current homeowners or renters insurance company, but you'd still like to be covered for the actions of your pit bull, there are a couple of alternatives.
Umbrella policy: An umbrella policy can be purchased as a workaround to protect you from the damage or injuries caused by your pit bull. An umbrella insurance policy is designed to serve as a supplement to your existing homeowners insurance by providing you with a greater liability policy limit. For instance, if you're found to be responsible for $400,000 worth of injuries, but your homeowners insurance policy has a $300,000 personal liability limit, your umbrella insurance would cover the remaining $100,000.
Pit bull insurance (canine liability insurance): Pit bull insurance is a stand-alone policy that provides policyholders with broad coverage for any dog breed. Pit bull liability insurance can typically be purchased through smaller insurance companies. Keep in mind that even if you purchase pit bull liability insurance, you should still make your homeowners or renters insurance company aware that you own a pit bull.