The image of a dog as a trusted companion and protector goes back for decades. TV shows like Lassie and movies like “Old Yeller” are a testament to the love that Americans, and humans in general, have for canines.
On the other hand, with nearly 5,000,000 dog bites happening every year in the United States, many states are now requiring dog owners to have pet liability insurance, especially if they have one of the so-called “bully breeds” like Pit Bulls. It used to be that a typical homeowner insurance policy would cover medical bills if your dog injured someone, but today many insurance carriers are excluding these bully breeds, leaving you exposed financially should your dog bite or attack someone.
Interestingly, almost 2/3 of dog owners in the United States are unaware that they need to tell their insurance company if they own one of the bully breed of dogs and, even worse, only 1 out of 5 who do own a bully breed have insurance that’s incorrect.
It doesn’t matter if the dog that you own is the most gentle dog anyone has ever seen, and has never had an incidence of anger. As far as the law is concerned that has no bearing whatsoever. For example, let’s say that your dog injures someone accidentally, not even with its teeth but by knocking someone over due to exuberance. One of the 1st questions that your insurance company is going to ask you is the kind of breed that your dog is and, if you haven’t disclosed the exact breed to your insurance company, it’s very possible that they won’t honor any insurance claims that you make.
It’s sort of a Catch-22 because, if you do tell your insurance company that you have a bully breed dog, your premiums might be raised or your insurance company might drop you completely. Withholding that information isn’t a good idea because, in the event that something happens and you do make a claim, your insurance might be invalid and your protection nil.
Which dog breeds are considered Bully Breeds?
In order to make sure that your insurance coverage is correct, and that you are protected should an accident occur, you need to know exactly which of the dog breeds are considered to be bully breeds. They include, in alphabetical order; Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Chows, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and wolf hydrids.
If you have one of these dog breeds and haven’t informed your insurance company of that fact, your best bet is to do so at your earliest possible convenience. If you don’t have insurance you might find it difficult to find a company that will ensure you, so be patient. It might be possible to have a rider on your existing homeowners policy but, in some cases, you might have to take out a separate, specific liability policy instead.
Which states have mandatory insurance laws for bully breed dogs?
Some states have actually made it mandatory to get insurance if you have a dog that’s considered a bully breed. Those include, in alphabetical order; Delaware, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Again, keep in mind that even if your dog is one of the most gentle creatures you’ve ever owned, and would never knowingly harm another person or animal, it’s one of the bully breed of dogs your best bet is to inform your insurance company and do whatever it takes to make sure that, in case of accident, you’ll be covered.