Do Rottweilers Raise Homeowner's Insurance?

by Gail Cohen

    There is a reason large dogs like German shepherds, pit bulls, doberman pinschers and rottweilers tend to stop people in their tracks: dog bite incidents related to certain breeds are on the rise, according to the Insurance Information Institute. They account for more than one-third of all homeowner's insurance liability claims paid in 2010. If you’re thinking of adopting a “Rottie,” call your homeowner’s insurance agent before picking a breeder to make sure you’re covered.

    While Rottweiler care websites and breeders extol the virtues of Rottweilers, calling them even-tempered and family-friendly, the Rottie also has a tenacious side, which is why police, military and customs agents choose them to guard and protect. If a Rottweiler is trained and socialized early in life, it usually makes a docile pet. Conversely, the breed is loyal, and if a Rottweiler feels its family is being threatened, it can be formidable when encountering strangers.

    Tim Grant, writing for the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette," knows a thing or two about the effect dog breeds have on insurance premiums. As an insurance agent, he sees millions of dollars in dog bite claims each year. “Each state has different insurance laws and each insurance company has different underwriting guidelines,” he writes. Within states, no two companies are the same, either. Grant points out “dangerous dog” clauses in policies and finds that some insurers blacklist certain breeds. Adds Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute, if one specific breed costs a company too many claims, that type of dog is likely to make a blacklist.

    Super-sized canines associated with larger-than-usual insurance claims are most likely to be rejected by homeowner's insurance underwriters. They are: pit bulls, rottweilers, doberman pinschers and German shepherds; so, anticipate a rate bump and/or rejection of your coverage request if you own one. You can’t hide your Rottie, either. Woburn Massachusetts insurance agent Jeff McCarthy says that insurers query homeowners about the presence of dogs on the company blacklist and if an owner isn’t forthcoming, the company can legally deny a claim or, in extreme cases, cancel the policy.

    If your homeowner's insurance carrier is Rottweiler-family friendly, you can expect to receive anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage to handle claims that could result from your dog. If a claim exceeds the amount of your liability ceiling, you are responsible for damages and legal expenses. Further, if your Rottweiler is involved in a biting incident, you could lose your coverage. Some insurers view certain breeds of dogs in the same way they see swimming pools: a liability risk.

    Adding a puppy or mature Rottweiler to the family may mean you have to shop for a new homeowner's policy if you discover your existing insurer practices breed discrimination. In fact, you could find that your premium skyrockets as a result of adopting "Buster." According to Bankrate.com, “Some insurers have even disqualified people from receiving homeowners insurance, just because their canine was deemed dangerous.” For that reason, shop around until you find a policy that’s both affordable and Rottweiler-friendly.

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    About the Author

    Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

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