There are innumerable benefits to welcoming a dog into your home, including an improvement in social, emotional and cognitive development in children, a more active lifestyle, an increased sense of protection and companionship. Still, as is the case with any animal, dogs can sometimes be unpredictable, and even the most friendly dogs can bite if provoked.
There are over 83 million dogs in the US, and according to the CDC, and over 4.5 million people report being bitten by dogs each year in the United States, with more than 800,000 of those requiring medical attention. Unfortunately, over half of dog bite victims, and around a third of dog bite fatalities (as of 2020), are children.
While liability for injuries and property damage caused by dogs generally falls under the scope of your homeowner or renters policy, many insurers place guidelines on which breeds they are willing to cover. This is due to the fact that these claims are often incredibly costly, with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimating insurers paid out around $881 million in claims related to dog bites in 2021, averaging about $49,025 each.
Some insurers, most notably State Farm, have moved beyond considering the breed of a dog when deciding how to insure them under homeowners liability coverage, and some others will provide coverage regardless of breed, but may adjust premiums upward if the insured has a dog on the company’s restricted list. In Michigan, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania, all insurers are barred from denying coverage to homeowners or excluding a pet from coverage based on a dog’s breed.
While breeding isnt a fail-proof indicator of which dogs will bite, many insurers still take this into consideration because a dog’s breed can influence temperament, whether the dog is easily startled and how strong its protective instincts may be. However, no matter a dog’s breed, it is common for insurers to introduce exclusions or deny coverage completely for a canine that has a history of biting or aggression.
In the slideshow above, we look at the breeds responsible for the most recorded dog bite-related fatalities in the United States between 2014 and 2020, according to a study from Animals 24-7.