Rottweilers & Home Owners Insurance
Have a trampoline? A swimming pool? A Wood stove? A Rottweiler?
Over the years, homeowners insurance companies have added restriction after restriction to these policies, and breeds of dogs are no exception. Rottweiler owners - and owners of other "banned breeds" have felt the pressure of breed specific prejudice everywhere from obedience classes to dog parks and of course, insurance companies. Even if you make a claim because a tree falls on your house, the company may send a notice of cancellation because of your dog.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "If your insurer finds out you have a banned item, they can't cancel the policy immediately. What they typically do is send you a nonrenewal notice when your policy comes up for renewal. At that point, policyholders have little recourse but to get rid of the banned item or find another insurer."
As a rottweiler owner, what should you do if you receive a notification of cancellation?
1. Ask your agent "WHY?" Find out if, short of giving up your dog, they would consider another solution. If you take out an umbrella policy, will that satisfy the company? If you show them your dog's Canine Good Citizen certificate and certificate of completion from obedience classes, etc., would that change them? Offer to have them meet your dog.
2. Shop around. Ask your rottie-owning friends who insures them. Contrary to popular belief, it's usually the agents who decide whether to take the risk on a dog, trampoline, wood stove, etc. and NOT the parent company. If the agent representing one company refuses to insure your home and dog, don't shy away from calling another agent that represents that same company. It's possible - and even likely - that another agent has had positive experiences with insuring the breed. Usually, the rate is competitive. Some of the larger, national insurance companies, who write "one-size-fits-all" policies will have an "across-the-board" ban on a certain item or breed. Check with a smaller company, a local company or companies that insure farms. My agent, for example, has told me that a bull is far more dangerous than a rottweiler. Plan on doing a lot of leg work - after all, your dog is worth it.
3. Approach the perspective agent with what you're looking to insure: "I have a house in X town, 3 bedrooms, a garage, an acre of land, blah blah blah. Do you have any restrictions on dog ownership?" (do not outright say "I have a rottweiler, will you insure me." or "I heard you insure rottweilers.") You may not get them to write your policy, but they may be able to refer you to if you present yourself as an educated and responsible dog owner. Expect rejection and hope that you can educate.
4. Know your facts. Rottweiler bites ARE dangerous. A rottweiler's jaw packs 800 lbs of pressure (a pitbull's is 1300 lbs) compared to that of a cocker spaniel or labrador. However, rottweilers rank #11 nationwide in the list of "biting breeds". Also, the statistics are NOT accurate. My personal experience, having been treated at the emergency room for dog bites during evaluations and from mishaps in my own home, is that the ER personnel do not press for the breed of dog. In all four cases, I said "it was a black dog." Additionally, if you are bitten by the neighbor's chihuahua or cocker spaniel, you don't GO to the emergency room and no one reports the bite.
Still striking out after 50 phone calls?
Here are a few links with more information that might help:
ASPCA - http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=lobby_insurance
AKC - http://www.akc.org/life/homeins/homeowners_inscenter.cfm
The ASPCA wants to know if you've had insurance problems based on your homeowners coverage. Please take their short survey .
~Copyright 2003, Dale P Green. Reprints by permission only.