UPDATED: AUGUST 07, 2023 | 2 MIN READ
If you own a german shepherd, your dog may or may not increase the cost of your homeowners insurance. It depends on several factors, including what state you’re in and which insurance company you’re using. The good news? Your rates may stay the same. The bad news? You may not be able to get coverage at all.
So, why is this so complicated? And how do you get affordable coverage?
We’ll explain why home insurance companies do what they do and which are best for dog owners. We’ll also talk about alternative insurance options and how you can keep your rates as low as possible.
Homeowners insurance requirements for german shepherd owners
When you own a dog, including a german shepherd, it’s important to understand the homeowner’s insurance requirements that may apply to you. Insurance companies consider pet ownership as a risk factor, particularly when it comes to dog breeds that are perceived as more aggressive or high-risk.
Some insurance companies have breed restrictions or exclusions in their policies. This means that certain dog breeds, including german shepherds, may not be covered under their standard homeowner’s insurance policies. It’s essential to review the policy terms and conditions before purchasing insurance to ensure that your dog’s breed is not excluded. If your breed is restricted, you may need to seek coverage from a different insurance company or explore specialized dog liability insurance options.
Homeowner’s insurance typically includes liability coverage, which protects you if your dog causes injury or property damage to others. However, coverage limits can vary, and some policies may have specific exclusions for dog-related incidents. When selecting a homeowner’s insurance policy, consider the liability coverage limit and any breed-specific restrictions or exclusions. If necessary, discuss with your insurance agent to understand the extent of coverage for dog-related incidents.
Additional endorsements or riders
Depending on your insurance company and policy, you may have the option to add additional endorsements or riders to your homeowner’s insurance for increased dog liability coverage. These endorsements provide extra protection in case of dog-related incidents, including dog bites or property damage. Speak with your insurance agent to inquire about these options and determine if they suit your needs.
Documentation and certifications
Some insurance companies may require specific documentation or certifications related to your dog. For example, they may ask for proof of vaccinations, spaying/neutering, or completion of obedience training programs. These readily available documents can help demonstrate responsible dog ownership and potentially influence insurance coverage decisions.
Risk mitigation measures
Insurance companies may also consider risk mitigation measures taken by dog owners when assessing coverage. Taking proactive steps to prevent dog-related incidents can positively impact your insurance coverage. Measures such as proper socialization, obedience training, securely fenced yards, and using leashes or muzzles when necessary can demonstrate your commitment to responsible dog ownership. Discuss with your insurance agent if implementing such risk mitigation measures can lead to lower premiums or improved coverage terms.
Why do home insurers blacklist certain breeds?
Dog bites are extremely expensive claims for insurance companies. There are over 4.7 million dog bite injuries in the U.S. annually, and approximately 800,000 of those injuries require medical treatment. The average claim for a dog bite is $12,000. Altogether, these claims cost American insurance companies $250 million annually.
Because insurance companies only make money when they don’t have to pay for claims, many companies try to limit their liability by refusing to cover certain breeds that are perceived as high-risk.
Which breeds are blacklisted?
Different insurers refuse to insure different breeds, but there are a few breeds that are most commonly considered restricted breeds, including:
- German Shepherds
- Labrador Retrievers
- Chow Chows
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Wolf Hybrids or Coyote Hybrids
Regardless of which breeds your insurer currently blacklists, they generally change their guidelines annually.
These changes are in response to annual dog bite rates for a given breed. Your dog may be considered “safe” this year, only to land on your insurer’s blacklist the next year.
This can happen frequently with german shepherds and other common, large breeds. That’s because insurers typically count how many bites have happened for a particular breed in a year.
Since there will be more bites from common breeds than from rare ones, friendly black labs get lumped in with half-wolf hybrids.
Wait – isn’t this illegal?
Many dog owners have overturned breed-specific bans in recent years in court. However, these bans were city and county ordinances. They’re typically ruled illegal because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.
However, the Equal Protection Clause only applies to the government. Since insurance companies are private businesses, they can refuse coverage for almost any reason.
There are a few exceptions; Michigan and Pennsylvania both have state laws that ban blacklisting, so if you live in either of these states, you’re good to go. While Massachusetts doesn’t ban blacklisting, the state’s FAIR insurance plan will provide homeowners with any breed of dog coverage.
Which insurers don’t blacklist?
The easiest way to get your dog insured is to choose a homeowners insurance company that doesn’t blacklist certain breeds.
Amica, Fireman’s, State Farm, Chubb, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and the military’s USAA homeowners insurance will all cover any breed. As mentioned, Massachusetts residents can also get coverage through the FAIR Plan.
Some companies may require a home visit by an insurance agent or a certificate of graduation from obedience school.
You may also need to shop around for different insurance agents. Some individual agents are hesitant to cover certain breeds. Even if one agent declines to issue a policy, you may be able to get a policy from the same company through a different agent.
My insurance company won’t cover my dog – what can I do?
We’ve already suggested several insurers that will cover homeowners insurance with a german shepherd, but let’s say that, for some reason, none of them will work for you. Maybe they don’t operate in your area or charge high premiums for your breed. How do you keep your dog without putting yourself at risk?
Several supplemental insurance policies specifically cover dog bites. Canine Liability policies include the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, the American Kennel Club, and insurance.
While these programs all have their requirements, they may require obedience training or a home visit. Still, since they’re specifically tailored to dog owners, you may be able to save money by taking out a separate animal liability policy.
Options for renters with german shepherds
Many landlords require their tenants to obtain renter’s insurance. If yours does, you’ll have similar options to homeowners. Since renter’s insurance covers your personal belongings and liability, and not the building – that’s covered by your landlord’s insurance – you’ll generally pay a lot less than you’d pay as a homeowner.
Even if your landlord doesn’t require you to have renters insurance, they may be hesitant to let certain breeds live in their building.
In this case, it can be worth offering to take out renter’s insurance or an animal liability policy. If your landlord knows they won’t be liable for bites, they’ll be more likely to welcome your dog into the apartment.
Find pet-friendly rentals
Look for rental properties that explicitly state they are pet-friendly or allow large dog breeds. Online rental platforms, local classifieds, and specialized pet-friendly rental websites can be valuable resources in your search. Additionally, consider contacting local german shepherd breed clubs or rescue organizations, as they may have connections or knowledge about pet-friendly rental options in your area.
Communicate and provide documentation
When contacting potential landlords, be open and transparent about your german shepherd. Highlight your dog’s training, behavior, and any certifications or awards they have received. Providing references from previous landlords, trainers, or neighbors who can vouch for your responsible pet ownership can also help alleviate concerns. Offer to provide additional documentation, such as vaccination records and proof of liability insurance, to demonstrate your commitment to being a responsible pet owner.
Obtain renters insurance
Even if your landlord doesn’t require renter’s insurance, obtaining it’s a good idea. Renter’s insurance typically covers personal belongings and liability, including dog-related incidents. Look for an insurance policy that specifically covers dog liability to ensure you have sufficient protection in case of an unforeseen event. Be sure to read the policy carefully to understand any breed restrictions or limitations.
Offer a pet resume
Create a pet resume for your german shepherd to showcase their positive qualities and training. Include information about their breed, age, size, temperament, obedience training, and any certifications they have earned. Providing this resume along with your rental application can help demonstrate that your german shepherd is well-behaved and a responsible addition to the property.
Offer to pay a pet deposit or pet rent
Landlords may have concerns about the potential damage caused by pets. To ease these concerns, offer to pay a higher security deposit or a separate pet deposit. Alternatively, some landlords may prefer a monthly pet rent in addition to the regular rent. These financial concessions can help address the landlord’s concerns and show your willingness to take responsibility for any damages.
Obtain references from previous landlords
If you have previously rented with your german shepherd and had a positive experience, ask your previous landlords if they would be willing to provide references. A reference from a previous landlord who can attest to your responsible pet ownership and the lack of issues related to your german shepherd can be highly beneficial in convincing potential landlords to consider your application.
Is there any way to lower my rates?
If you’re paying too much for liability coverage, ask your insurance agent if you can do anything to reduce your rates. Many companies will offer you a lower rate if your dog graduates obedience school or if you obtain a Canine Good Citizen certification.
These are easy ways to lower your rates. Other methods can include special housing requirements like crate or muzzle training.
How do I keep my dog from biting?
Of course, the best insurance policy has a dog that doesn’t bite. This will keep you from losing coverage, and it’s the right thing to do. Here are a few tips for keeping your dog from biting:
- Spay or neuter your pet. Female dogs can act up when they’re in heat, while male dogs can be aggressive if they’re not neutered.
- Make sure your dog is well-socialized. If you don’t often have guests, consider taking your dog to a local dog park. Not only is it good exercise, but it’s also a great way to get your dog used to being around people and other dogs.
- Keep them inside a fence or on a leash when your dog is outside. This will keep your neighbors safe and protect your local postal worker.
Does having a german shepherd affect homeowners insurance?
Some dog breeds are considered to be more high-risk than others by insurance companies. These breeds are more likely to be involved in dog bites or other incidents that could lead to a claim. Some of the dog breeds that are considered to be high-risk include:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Any wolf breeds
- Chow Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Pit bulls
- Presa Canarios
- Siberian Huskies
- Staffordshire Terriers
Can I purchase german shepherd insurance to lower my homeowners insurance?
You can get a seperate pet insurance for your german shepherd, however that won’t help lower the homeowners insurance. Pet insurance will cover your dog’s healthcare, but since a german shepard is on the agreesive breeds list, it will likely increase your insurance premiums.
Do I need to tell home insurance about my dog?
It is imperative to inform your insurance agent about any new pets, regardless of their type or breed. This is the only way to ensure that you are covered in the event that your pet causes damage to your home or others.
Why does home insurance ask if you have pets?
Owning a dog can make your homeowners insurance more expensive. Insurance companies consider pet ownership a risk factor, and they may charge higher premiums for homes with pets. The breed of your dog can also affect your premium, with some breeds considered to be more dangerous than others.
How much does having a dog such as a german shepherd raise homeowners insurance?
On average, homeowners insurance rates only go up by 1% if you have a restricted dog breed. However, some insurance companies may increase your rates more than that, or they may even exclude liability coverage for any damage your dog causes. It’s important to check with your insurance company to find out what their policy is on restricted dog breeds.
How to get german shepherd homeowners insurance
Whether or not your german shepherd increases homeowners insurance depends on various factors, but one thing is for sure – you need to shop around for quotes.
Rates can vary drastically from company to company, so it’s important to compare as many rates as possible. You can start by getting online quotes. It only takes a few minutes, and you could save hundreds of dollars on your annual premiums.
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