The United States is among countries that have breed-specific banning laws in place. While not nationwide, some states and individual insurance companies in the US have breed-specific restrictions or bans. There are certain dog breeds banned by homeowners Insurance companies. The breeds that are most likely to be banned or face restrictions are Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes.
In this article, I’ll discuss breed-specific banning laws, the controversial ethics behind it, and the effects of such bans on insurance premiums. If you already have a dog, or are thinking of buying one, read this article till the end.
What Banning Really Means?
But hold on a second, what do we even mean by “banning” here? We gotta figure that out before we get to the main section. Because when we say “banned,” it’s not like someone’s gonna throw you in the slammer for buying dog breeds banned by homeowners Insurance companies. No. Absolutely not, unless these breeds are also banned by your state legislation.
Banned in this context means insurance companies won’t cough up cash if someone gets bitten or injured by one of those breeds, and you are supposed to pay for their ordeal.
Some Facts about “Banning”
First of all, bans are not universal. Not all companies ban all high-risk breeds of dogs. What’s more is that some companies have moved away from breed-specific limitations and assess each dog on a case-by-case basis, considering training, socialization, and bite history. So, if you could prove that your dog is well-behaved and properly trained, that you move with your dog, and it doesn’t disturb or attack anyone, your insurance provider will probably not charge you higher premiums.
Secondly, restrictions can vary. In some cases, premiums might simply be higher for dog breeds banned by homeowners Insurance companies, while other companies might refuse coverage entirely. So, if your dog is banned completely by one insurance company, while another company is ready to give you coverage for some extra cash, and you are financially solvent, it makes more sense to opt for the second company than buying a supposedly safe breed of dog.
The Ethics Behind Banning
Controversy exists around the practice of breed-based restrictions. It’s been actively debated for potentially unfairly penalizing responsible owners and disregarding individual temperament and training. Breed-specific brings into question the topic of Individual freedom vs. collective safety.
Those who are in favor of banning argue that it will keep people safe. On the other hand, those against banning opine the ban unduly restrict individual liberty for the sake of protecting others from harm.
You might be tempted to think that insurance companies in the US take the side of collective safety, put restrictions on certain breeds. But that’s not necessarily true. Insurance companies care about their profit margins more than they care about the good for society. Normally, dog breeds banned by homeowners Insurance companies have a history of causing serious injuries, or property damage.
Commonly Banned Dog Breeds
Dog breeds banned by homeowners Insurance companies in the US that are either completely outside insurance coverage or have restrictions, or higher premiums are:
- Pit Bull-type dogs
- Doberman Pinschers
- Chow Chows
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
There are breed-specific legislations in the US (BSL). What is unique about these laws is they don’t just regulate or ban listed categories of breeds, but also other breeds that resemble the listed breeds. A total of 21 states have breed-specific laws. The key reason behind installing such laws is to lower the number of dog bites and fatality related incidents.
These laws are not without criticism. Breed-discrimination is the most common criticism against them. Other criticisms point out how these laws cause the dogs from banned or restricted breeds to suffer. Because insurance companies charge higher premiums for those breeds, prospective owners don’t buy them, and choose other breeds instead. And when they do own those breeds, they often restrict their outdoor activities driven by the fear that they could bite or injure someone. Dogs are extremely outdoorsy, so this is detrimental to their physical and mental well-being.
What Should You Do?
Home insurance is perhaps the most important form of insurance. So, a company refusing to insure your home because your canine friend is from a banned breed is a scary proposition. Especially so because you don’t want to choose either of the two, but the situation might compel you to do so.
Thankfully, there are quite a few options for you to explore. You can,
- Shop for insurance: Not all insurance companies have breed-specific restrictions. Some assess risks based on individual factors like the dog’s age, training, and socialization, offering more flexibility for responsible owners. Research independent insurance agencies with access to multiple providers to compare coverage options and find the one that caters to your specific needs.
- Consider alternative insurance: Specialty insurance companies exist specifically for certain dog breeds deemed “higher risk” by mainstream insurers. These may come with higher premiums but offer the security of coverage. You can also explore liability insurance options separate from home insurance that covers dog bites or injuries.
- Demonstrate responsible ownership: Do you know that as a homeowner, you have bargaining power? Flexible home insurance companies might make exceptions for your dog, even if it is one of the dog breeds banned by homeowners Insurance companies. You must convince them. For that, you need to work with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is properly trained, socialized, and up-to-date on vaccinations. Consider obtaining obedience training certifications if available. Your persuasive skills and your efforts to present yourself as a responsible owner might convince them to reconsider their decision.
However, your state laws are most important. If they ban a certain breed, it’s unlikely that a home insurance company will give you coverage. So, check your state’s laws first.