Q

Does homeowners insurance cover pit bulls?

A

Whether your pit bull is covered by your homeowners insurance depends on your insurance company. Some insurers exclude coverage for dog breeds that they consider too high risk or dangerous.

Kara McGinley

By 

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Updated  | 2 min read

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Pit bulls are notoriously difficult to insure because many companies consider them to be too high risk. As a way to decrease risk and potentially expensive liability claims, some home insurers may exclude coverage for pit bulls or even refuse to cover you altogether if you have a pit bull.

If your insurer does cover pit bulls, the liability coverage component of your homeowners insurance may cover medical expenses or legal fees if your pit bull bites or injures someone.

Key Takeaways

  • Many insurance companies exclude pit bulls from coverage, meaning medical and legal bills won’t be covered in the event your dog attacks someone and they sue.

  • If you own a “dangerous” dog breed, consider increasing your liability protection with an umbrella policy.

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Can I get homeowners insurance if I have a pit bull?

Technically, you can get homeowners insurance if you have a pit bull, but it depends on the insurance company. It’s common for insurers to ban coverage for pit bulls and other breeds that they deem “dangerous.” 

If your insurer does agree to cover your pit bull, here is how you’d be covered.

  • Liability coverage: Pays for medical expenses if your pit bull were to bite someone or damage their property. If you can’t agree on a payment and the injured party sues you, your liability coverage can also help pay for legal fees. 

  • Medical payments coverage: Pays for more minor medical expenses if your dog injures someone — like first aid, an ambulance ride, or X-rays — regardless of who is at fault.

If you own a pit bull, consider increasing your liability coverage limits

Most insurers offer $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. If you have a pit bull, consider getting the most liability coverage available. If your pit bull was to seriously injure someone, you could be on the hook for their medical bills plus the legal fees if they were to sue, potentially costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why do homeowners insurance companies ban pit bulls? 

Dog bite liability claims cost $854 million in 2020 alone, according to the Insurance Information Institute. [1] To mitigate this expensive risk, insurers ban certain dog breeds that they deem “aggressive” or “dangerous,” like pit bulls. 

Some insurers may still cover you, but exclude coverage for your pit bull — meaning you wouldn’t be covered if your pit bull were to bite someone. Some insurers may only deny coverage for your pit bull if it has a history of biting. And other insurers may just deny you coverage altogether if you own one. 

However, you should check your policy for any caveats. For example, some insurance companies will insure your pit bull if it has gone through a certain amount of training.

Some states ban breed discrimination

Thanks to dog advocacy groups, legislation is being passed to ban breed discrimination in the insurance industry. So far, Illinois, Nevada, and New York have all passed such legislation.

3 home insurance companies that cover pit bulls

Below are a few insurance companies that may cover your pit bull. 

1. State Farm

According to State Farm, they do not ban any specific dog breed. Instead, they may take into account if your dog has a history of biting or if you’ve had to file a liability claim because of your dog in the past.  

→ Read our State Farm homeowners insurance review

2. USAA

Like State Farm, USAA claims they do not discriminate against any dog breed, but you may be denied coverage if your dog has a history of biting someone or aggressive behavior. Keep in mind that membership to USAA is limited to people affiliated with the military. 

→ Read our USAA homeowners insurance review

3. Chubb

Chubb only factors in a dog's biting and behavior history, as well. Chubb is a premier carrier designed for high-value homes, so this may be a good option if you have a high net worth.

→ Read our Chubb homeowners insurance review 

What to do if your pit bull isn’t covered

If your pit bull isn’t covered, you should shop around for a different insurance company. If your homeowners insurance excludes pit bulls, but agrees to insure your home, you won’t be able to file a claim if your pit bull bites anyone or if it destroys someone’s property.

But rest assured, there are a few other ways you can get coverage or additional coverage for your pit bull.

  • Pet liability insurance:  If your insurance company excludes pit bulls, you should consider purchasing a pet liability insurance policy. This offers coverage for all breeds of dogs in the event your dog injures a person or another dog. Your homeowners insurance company may offer this coverage as an endorsement or they may sell it as a standalone policy. If your insurer doesn’t offer pet liability insurance, you may be able to buy a policy from a specialized insurer.

  • Personal umbrella insurance: If your homeowners insurance does cover your pit bull, you should still consider increasing your liability coverage with umbrella insurance. Umbrella insurance can increase your liability limits up to $1 million and protects you against expensive lawsuits that may exceed the $500,000 coverage limit in standard policies. Most umbrella policies range anywhere from $150 to $250 annually.