Renters insurance & pit bulls

Can you get renters insurance if you have a pit?

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Logan SachonSenior Managing Editor, Life Insurance & ResearchLogan Sachon is a former senior managing editor of life insurance and research at Policygenius. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Guardian, Business Insider, CNN Money, BuzzFeed, Money Under 30, VICE, New York Magazine, and elsewhere.

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Pit bull owners who are also renters can face a lot of difficulties when trying to find somewhere to live with their pups: many apartments don’t allow dogs, and many that do have breed restrictions that often exclude pit bulls.

But even after you find an apartment for you and for your dog, you may find one last hurdle: it’s very hard to get renters insurance if you have a pit bull. Read on to find how pit bull owners can get renters insurance:

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How does renters insurance cover pit bull owners?

Whether you live in a room in a shared apartment, a loft, or a house, if you’re a renter with a pet, you need renters insurance — and that’s especially true if you share your home with a pit bull.

Renters insurance covers your personal belongings in the event of a fire or windstorm (these are called “named perils.”) But most importantly for dog owners, it also offers you liability coverage and some funds for medical payments in case you (or your pet) accidentally hurt someone. You may think that your dog would never hurt anyone — and that may be true! — but even if your dog playfully nips a visitor, you could be on the hook. And what a hook it is: according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average dog bite claim in 2017 cost over $37,000. Many experts recommend that if you have a dog, the minimum liability coverage you should have is $100,000.Do you have that kind of cash? If not, then you need renters insurance.

Learn more about renters insurance and pets.

Why is it so hard to get renters insurance if you have a pit bull?

Why is it so hard to get renters insurance with a pit bull? Because pit bulls are often on insurance companies’ list of excluded dog breeds. These are breeds that the companies consider to be too much of a liability to cover — that is, they have crunched the numbers and found that these breeds are very likely to result in big claims and big payouts.

Each insurance carrier has its own list of excluded breeds, also referred to as uninsurable breeds, prohibited breeds, or aggressive breeds, but some commonly blacklisted dog breeds include:

  • Pit Bull Terriers

  • Staffordshire Terriers

  • Rottweilers

  • German Shepherds

  • Presa Canarios

  • Chows Chows

  • Doberman Pinschers

  • Akitas

  • Wolf-hybrids

  • Mastiffs

  • Cane Corsos

  • Great Danes

  • Alaskan Malamutes

  • Siberian Huskies

So why are pit bulls on the list? Because they account for a disproportionate number of violent dog attacks in the U.S. Consider this: from 2005 to 2015, pit bulls caused 232 deaths, accounting for 64% of all death-by-dog bites during that period, according to DogsBite, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing dog attacks.

So even if your dog isn’t dangerous, the reputation of the breed means that insurance companies may be unwilling to insure them. But that doesn’t mean you’re totally without insurance options.

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Renters insurance companies for pit bull owners

Pit bull owners shopping for renters insurance quotes have some extra leg work to do in order to find coverage. Military-only carrier USAA and State Farm are two companies that accept all breeds in most states. Rules for companies can vary by state and underwriter, so you may want to call several of the best renters insurance companies to see if you can get coverage for your pit bull.

Alternatively, some carriers will still offer you a policy but exclude any dog-related claims.

If you own an excluded breed, there are two additional options to make sure that you are covered:

  1. Umbrella policy: This is additional liability insurance that you buy on top of your homeowners, renters, or auto insurance policies.

  2. Canine liability policy: This is separate insurance policy that you buy specifically to protect you from liability claims related to your dog. Canine liability insurance is often available through smaller carriers. Costs depend on your dog’s breed and history, and costs can range from under $100 per year to $1,000 per year. Two pet liability carriers that do not exclude pit bulls are Einhorn Insurance and Dean Insurance.

How renters insurance works if your pit bull bites someone

If your pit bull bites a neighbor, your renters insurance will pay some medical bills, plus defend you and pay up to your liability limit if the neighbor takes you to court.

Here’s how to make a claim: Many insurance policies require that you notify them of any dog bites within a certain period of time, usually a week to 10 days (though check your policy for the exact terms). You’ll need to share photos of the bites, an account of what happened, and statements from witnesses, if you have them. The person who got bitten can then file a third-party claim through your insurance agency.