This article began as a review of the widely propagated “most dangerous breeds list” and how that affects Insurance coverage, but as I began to delve more deeply into the topic, I realized that no central list exists per the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are a multitude of internet references to such a list which has created a cloud of misinformation surrounding the topic. How does an insurer’s breed restrictive coverage affect you as a Homeowner or renter?
If you search the internet on this topic, authors of articles centering on a “most dangerous breeds” list might reference the 20-year study done by the AVMA as it pertains to evidence of aggressiveness. What the authors of these sometimes condemning articles do not advise the readers of are other mitigating factors that must be taken into consideration which can skew the results. No statistical study is as straight-forward as those publicizing the results would lead you to believe. In this particular case, other factors should be considered along with the references to the AVMA study: the popularity of the specific breed at the time of reporting, the type of breed common in the area of reporting and misidentification (just to name a few). Contrary to the popularly propagated top aggressive breeds, the AVMA stated that “breeds found to be more aggressive toward people based on behavioral and owner surveys tend to belong to small to medium sized breeds, such as the collies, toy breeds and spaniels”.
Insurance companies issue policies based on risk assessments and the widely proliferated aggressive breed lists information, whether accurate or not, plays a role. You may recognize this if you have ever searched for a place to lease but have been told “No” because you have a “dangerous” or “aggressive” breed. Some leasing and property management companies have their own general list of breed restrictions that they blacklist, while others attribute the breed restrictions to the actual owner’s insurance policy.
A representative with Goosehead Insurance company says that each carrier has their own specific animal guidelines. None will cover Pitbulls, Dobermans or a dog with a bite history. If a client owns an ineligible dog, they may be denied coverage completely with some of the carriers, whether or not separate pet liability is purchased.
Alternatively, USAA homeowner’s insurance does not have breed restrictive policies, however they will deny coverage if a dog has bite history, with their umbrella coverage having more restrictions.
Some companies limit the number of pets that are covered.
We live in a city of discarded animals, where many of us are tasked with giving the unwanted a safe haven. Unfortunately, a large number of those saved land on one of the “aggressive dog breeds” lists. This ultimately means that people experience difficulty in finding rental accommodations and homeowners face similar struggles when obtaining proper insurance coverage for the animals they refuse to blacklist.