Homeowner's Insurance and Dogs
Canine Legislation Coordinator, AKC
you are a dog owner who has recently experienced a problem obtaining or
renewing your homeowner's insurance, you're not alone. Many frustrated
individuals are finding that insurance companies sometimes deny coverage
to dog owners based on a particular breed or simply because they own a
dog. While the agencies are within their rights to deny coverage or charge
higher premiums to whomever they choose, the AKC's Canine Legislation Department
shares the concern of responsible dog owners who are being treated unfairly.
First-time applicants may discover that an insurance company
will ask what breed they own and immediately reject their application.
Long-term policyholders may also be refused renewal when the agent discovers
the insured owns a dog. The homeowner may not have told the insurance company
about owning dogs when seeking initial coverage or the company may have
changed it policy towards dogs.
The AKC believes that insurance companies should
determine coverage of a dog-owning household based on the dog's deeds,
not the breed. If a dog is well behaved, there is no reason to deny or
cancel coverage or to charge higher premiums. In fact, dogs should be considered
an asset, a natural alarm system whose bark may deter intruders and prevent
These inequities and prejudices against owning dogs
may be addressed by legislation. In Pennsylvania, state law prohibits insurance
companies from discriminating against homeowners based on their breed of
dog. In New York, Sen.Dean Skelos recently sponsored a bill that would
prevent agencies from discriminating against breeds. Other states, such
as Washington, are slowly following this initiative.
Until such proposals are law, the following are some suggestions
for coping with insurance problems.
For further information on homeowners' insurance vis-a-vis
dog ownership see the April issue of AKC's Canine Legislative Observer,
which can be found at April Canine Legislative Observer
If you are seeking a homeowner's policy, shop around.
Ask your dog-owning friends which company they use and if they have had
If one agent for a particular company turns you down, try
another agent for that company. Apparently, these exclusions may not be
written in stone. They may be the prejudices of an agency and not the insurance
Find an agent who will work with you to locate an insurance
company that does not penalize for dog or breed ownership. Your agent should
be working with your best interests in mind and not those of an insurance
If all else fails, consider buying a separate liability policy
or separate rider to your existing policy that is specifically directed
towards your dogs.
Every state has a Commissioner of Insurance. You can find
the Commissioner's name and address in the blue pages of your phone book
under "State Government" or by asking your local state senator or representative.
Contact the Commissioner and request a list of all insurance companies
doing business in your state. This will give you a large pool of companies
to which you may direct your inquiries. If you feel you are being treated
unfairly by your insurance company, share your experiences with the Commissioner.
Finally, visit or write your state senator or representative.
Discuss your insurance problems in a forthright, friendly manner. Ask that
a bill be introduced to address the unreasonable underwriting practices
of some insurance companies. The Canine Legislation Department can provide
you with free materials to assist you in these efforts. Contact us at 919-233-3720
is from the AKC site, http://www.akc.org