Tuesday Top Ten: Breed-Specific Insurance Rates

shutterstock_89404294Many homeowners insurance carriers are loathe to provide insurance to homes that include certain breeds of dogs that they deem more likely to bite and cause injuries. Although the laws in many jurisdictions are finally reflecting the fact that it’s not necessarily the breed so much as the way the dog is raised, insurance companies still, in many cases, use breed-specific rating systems to either deny insurance or to require a higher premium, regardless of the individual dog’s behavioral history.

Here are the top ten breeds that most often cause heartburn for insurance companies:

10. Siberian Husky
9. German Shepherd (Have they not heard of Rin Tin Tin?)
8. Alaskan Malamute
7. Akita
6. Presa Canario
5. Great Dane (This one shocked me. I’ve never seen a Dane be anything but loving.)
4. Chow Chow
3. Rottweiler
2. Doberman Pinscher
1. American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier (“Wow! They came in at number one? Really?” She said sarcastically)

To be honest, I’m kind of surprised the Dogo Argentino is not on this list. They are many times included when breed-specific concerns are raised.

All of these dogs have in common size and strength, and they are all known for their loyalty and protective instincts. Families who live with one of these dogs need to be experienced at socializing and training, providing an environment where the dog knows who is boss and what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. Constant awareness of your dog is also required. Of course, all of this is good advice for any breed – not just those on the list.

What can you do if you have one of these dogs?

If your homeowner’s rate seems high compared to your neighbors, ask if the insurance company is penalizing you for your dog. If so, shop around for insurance. Many companies use breed-specific rates or denials, but some do not.

Take your dog to obedience school and give a copy of the graduation certificate to the insurance agent. You may also want to seek out a Good Citizenship Award from the American Kennel Club, which requires that your dog take a test and that you sign a Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. These types of certifications for your dog may or may not make a difference to your agent.

Educate your agent about how breed specific rates and denials are unfair to the people who raise dogs responsibly, and to their dogs who are often unfairly lumped together with others who may or may not have been trained and socialized properly.

If you live with one of these breeds, go out of your way to make sure your dog does not add to the statistics that give them a bad name. Socialize and train your dog at every opportunity, and watch for signs that your dog is getting overwhelmed so you can remove him or her from upsetting situations before the unthinkable occurs.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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