How to Get Home or Renters Insurance with a Pit Bull

You can get home or renters insurance if you have a pit bull. But in most states, insurance companies can deny or limit coverage for pit bulls or bully breed mixes. A few dog-friendly companies like State Farm don't restrict coverage or deny claims based on your dog's breed.

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Does home and renters insurance cover pit bulls?

Most insurance companies won't deny you a home or renters policy if you have a pit bull, but they won't cover any damage your pit bull causes.

For the most part, home and renters insurance companies include an exclusion for claims that involve so-called restricted dog breeds, including pit bull breeds. And nearly every company will deny coverage for dogs who have bitten someone before.

That means if your pit bull bites someone or damages their property, you won't be able to make an insurance claim. You'd need to find a resolution with the other person or pay out of pocket for the damage instead.

For dog breeds that aren't on the restricted list, home and renters insurance pays for any damage or injuries your dog causes other people who don't live in your home. For example, if your dog bites a guest or neighbor, they could make a claim through your home insurance to pay for their hospital bills. That's included in the liability protection in your home insurance coverage or renters insurance coverage.

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Best home and renters insurance for pit bulls

The best home and renters insurance companies for pit bull owners consider an individual dog's past behavior to assess insurance risk instead of setting harmful dog breed restrictions. Most companies deny all liability coverage for incidents involving pit bulls, and some won't offer you a policy at all if you have a pit bull.

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Unless your pit bull has bitten someone in the past, you're eligible to get home or renters 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.

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Although USAA policies are only available 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 decides 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.

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In some states, Auto-Owners does not restrict customers from owning pit bulls — in fact, one national company 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. You'll need to call to confirm which applies to you.

Do I need to tell my insurance company I have a pit bull?

Yes, you need to inform your home or renters insurance company about any dogs who live at your home. Usually you'll need to inform your insurer of your dog's breed and bite history when you first sign up for a policy or when you add a new dog to your home.

It's considered fraud if you don't tell your insurance company you have a dog, especially one on the restricted breed list. Your insurer could have legal grounds to cancel your policy or deny any future claims, even claims unrelated to your pet.

If you already have an existing home insurance policy and recently adopted a pit bull, check whether your policy has any breed exclusions, and check to see if 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.

Is my dog considered a pit bull?

Pit bulls are a group of terrier dog breeds that include the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier.

Some insurance companies will extend that list to any bully breed, including American bulldogs.

Your insurance company will probably consider your dog to be a pit bull if your dog's breed is in the pit bull family or if your dog is a mix that includes any of those breeds. While it's tough to know what kind of dog your mutt might be, a DNA test could help prove whether your dog is a pit bull or not.

Which states don't allow breed discrimination for pit bulls?

Breed blacklisting for insurance policies has been outlawed in some states and cities, like Michigan, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania.

In those states, insurance companies are legally prohibited from canceling or not renewing your coverage based on your dog's breed alone. They may still be allowed to charge higher rates for certain dog breeds or deny coverage if the dog bites someone.

However, most other states allow insurance companies to provide or deny coverage to dog owners however they like. Pit bulls are unfortunately one of the most commonly denied dog breeds by insurance companies.

Do pit bulls increase your insurance rates?

Yes, you should expect slightly higher home or renters insurance rates if you have a pit bull. The rate increase is highly dependent on the insurance company and your pit bull's past history.

The good news is insurance rates for big dogs are only about 1% more expensive, on average. That category of dogs can also include breeds like German shepherds, rottweilers, Dobermans and chow chows.

Unfortunately, insurance companies charge higher rates to pit bull owners because pit bulls have an undeserved reputation for posing a greater liability risk than other dog breeds. Dog bite claims can be expensive for insurance companies in the form of hospital bills and lawsuits. In a recent year, dog bites and dog-related injuries accounted for a third of all homeowners insurance liability claims, which cost over $600 million in paid claims.

Alternatives for pit bull insurance

If you'd like extra coverage for your pit bull, consider umbrella insurance or a stand-alone dog liability policy for pit bulls. You should still notify your insurance company you have a pit bull even if you buy a separate or supplementary policy.

  • Umbrella policy: An umbrella policy could protect you from damage or injuries caused by your pit bull. Umbrella insurance is a supplement to your existing homeowners insurance that gives you a higher liability policy limit. For example, 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.
  • Dog liability insurance: Also known as dog owner liability insurance or animal liability insurance, this stand-alone policy offers broad coverage for any pet, including pit bulls. Pit bull liability insurance can typically be purchased through smaller insurance companies.

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