homeowners insurance policy and dogsI grew up with a wonderful dog, Maverick (maybe why my dad loved the movie Top Gun so much). Our dog brought great joy to my family, and I couldn’t imagine my childhood without him. However, while having a pet was wonderful, now I see that there are also effects certain types of pets may have on your homeowners insurance policy.

Annually, 350,000 dog bite victims need to go to the ER for immediate attention, and these visits can cost a great deal of money—the average insurance claim for a dog bite is almost $19,000. Even with this risk, most homeowners insurance policies do cover animal liability and injury sustained from a result of a dog bite.

It is important to note, though, that if you own dogs of certain breeds, some carriers will limit the coverages on your insurance policy. These carriers don’t want to pay the extra costs associated with animal liability, so they may specifically exclude it on the insurance policy contract. If they do cover certain high-risk animals, you may need to pay a surcharge.

This may seem unfair to the animal lovers out there, but you can blame the actuaries. The underwriters listen to the actuaries who tell them that certain breeds of dogs have a greater chance of injuring someone. As a result, there is a perceived greater risk to insure that home—and a carrier may decline to write a policy.

What breeds do insurance companies consider dangerous or questionable?

Not all dogs are considered dangerous, and if you happen to own dogs in any of the breeds on the following list, I’m not saying your dogs are dangerous. This is simply a list of dog breeds known to be denied on a homeowners policy.

  • Rottweiler
  • Pit Bull
  • Akita
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Great Dane
  • German Shepherd
  • Chow
  • Mastiff
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Presa Canario
  • Siberian Husky
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Wolf hybrid

In addition, ownership of exotic animals listed on insurance companies’ Exotic Pet Species Index could pose a problem for your policy. Even if you purchase one of these animals at a pet store or from another reputable dealer, it could still be a liability. Talk to your insurance broker before bringing one of these animals into your home.

  • Snake
  • Alligator
  • Skunk
  • Raccoon
  • Chinchilla
  • Sugar Glider
  • Wild feline cub
  • Non-human prima
  • Bear

It’s fun to have a pet, but be smart about pet ownership. Make sure that your companion animal enriches your life and doesn’t become a financial risk to you and your family. Consult with your broker to review your circumstances.

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Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property, and casualty insurance, as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies. Follow her on Twitter: @ReyInsurance