Do I Have to Tell My Homeowners Insurance Company I Have a Dog?

October 6, 2010 5 Comments »


An Insurance Policy Is a Contract

Insurance Q&A: “Do I have to tell my insurance company I have a dog?”

Drum roll…Yes. But you already knew that. Keep reading if you want to know why.

The contract states, basically, that in exchange for consideration (i.e. your money) the insurance company makes a contractual “promise” to indemnify you (i.e. make your whole again) against claims for damages as a result of your negligence.

That said; it is generally not acceptable for any party to a contract to misrepresent themselves.

If you are asked, as part of the completion of your application for homeowner’s insurance, whether or not you have a dog, or more likely, what type of dog you have, you must tell the truth.

What’s the Difference…My Dog Wouldn’t Hurt a Flea?

News flash…your dog is a dog. Dogs bite people. There are thousands of homeowner’s insurance claims each year in the U.S. dealing with animal (mostly dog) bites.

Many of them are “first time biter’s,” which means their owner, up until the second the bite took place, believed their dog “wouldn’t hurt a flea.”

Taking that info into account, you are liable for any bodily injury or property damage your dog causes…whether or not the neighbor’s kid was “torturing” the dog just prior to the bite.

If your dog bites someone, you may end up in court defending your dog and your pocketbook.

What If I Don’t Tell Them?

Your homeowner’s insurance policy would indemnify you against the damages awarded to a party who sues you and wins, up to applicable policy limits.

That is; unless you didn’t disclose the fact you had a dog or misrepresented the breed of your dog to obtain coverage. Read more about homeowners insurance covering your dog.

Any misrepresentation discovered on your policy application could void your coverage.

In the case of an animal liability claim, the insurance company is going to review your policy and application in order to determine if your “loss” is covered.

(Top 10 homeowners insurance companies)

If you stated you didn’t have a dog on the application when, in reality, you did, the insurance company may refuse to pay the claim and cancel your policy.

This would put you in a bad position for your lawsuit. You would have to find your own attorney and pay for any damages (hospital bills, bite scars) you are found liable for.

You may end up paying a little extra for your homeowner’s insurance as a result of the breed of dog YOU CHOSE TO BUY.

But potentially having to pay $300,000 out of your own pocket rather than a few extra bucks for coverage for your dog doesn’t make sense and certainly isn’t worth the risk.

Get insurance quotes online or from an independent agent if you are looking to save money on your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Your current insurer may charge you a higher insurance premium or non-renew your policy because of your dog, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a company to do it cheaper.

Read more: Top 10 states for dog bite insurance claims.

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  1. Rosie August 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm -

    If they hear the word pitbull you might run into trouble…

  2. Mark December 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm -

    I wouldn’t if you have a pitbull…they’ll probably say NO!

  3. renia November 10, 2017 at 11:18 am -

    How ridiculous…I would like to know who is the expert on determining dog breeds? This isn’t Westminster…this is a dog….most “PITBULLS” are actually not pitbulls at all but mixed breed terriers. No dog should be discriminated against for its breed. It is the owner’s responsibility to keep a dog under control at all times and I have seen owners that don’t …that being said, the discrimination is unfair. Little dogs bite…many family dogs bite..even labs….dogs have teeth…they can bite…good pet ownership is key and the insurance companies shouldn’t be so tough on the bigger type of dogs that get bad media press. period

  4. Staff November 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm -

    Unfortunately, bigger dogs have more capacity to do harm and if the insurance companies have determined through all their data mining that they’re more like to pay a claim with a certain breed present, they will probably charge accordingly.

  5. Alyson Scotti June 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm -

    The U.S. Center for Disease Control is the official authority on dog bite statistics. Based on the data they have, CDC concluded that the most common factor in dog bite incidents is that the dogs were intact (not spayed-neutered) and that breed should not used to determine the likelihood that a dog will bite.
    So insurance companies should consider if your dog is spayed-neutered or not rather than ask about the breed.

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