In the past few decades there have been substantial financial losses from dog bite injury claims under the homeowner policy. Previously, homeowners were covered regardless of breed or bite history. Presently, if you own a breed or in some cases even a variation or mix of a breed on the “bad dog” list – coverage may be excluded under your homeowners policy for animal liability. And even more common practice now is that some insurance companies consider you ineligible for homeowner coverage all together if your family pet is on the “bad dog” list.
Most major insurance companies have a “bad dog” list that is used as part of the underwriting process for homeowners insurance eligibility. This “bad dog” list is based upon a breeds bite history and related statistics to that breed rather than each individual dog and household. The most commonly used “bad dog” list currently consists of Rottweilers, Doberman, Pit Bull, Chow, Wolf Hybrid and Presa Canaro. In the case where you may own a mixed breed with one of the breeds listed you may challenge the exclusion where needed with a vet’s certification of breed and its estimated percentages but there is still no guarantee of acceptance.
In the already limited Florida Homeowner marketplace, the “bad dog” list adds fuel to the fire. However, some carriers will make exceptions based upon specific documentation but it takes time and there is no guarantee of approval. The insurance companies and their underwriters seem to utilize the Centers for Disease Control publications on dog bite fatality reports to determine which breed lands on the “bad dog” list. At this time it is rare for the underwriter and insurance company to use a case by case method in determining eligibility for the shear fact of time. We are hopeful that this will soon change as our Florida markets are already so limited and adding in the “bad dog” list can send some homeowners packing even quicker.
As a consumer and an insured with animals, be sure to always answer the application questions correctly and relay any changes to your insurance agent mid term. While there is currently no way around the “bad dog” list with the majority of the insurance companies always be forthright with your family pets breed to your agent so that if and when you experience a loss even if its not animal related, the insurance company will not have the ability to “bite” back with a claim denial.