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Does renters insurance cover pit bulls?
Yes, a standard renters insurance policy will cover your liability (i.e. legal fees and damages) if your pit bull bites someone or damages their property.
However, there’s a catch: if your dog is a pit bull, many renters insurance providers will refuse to issue you a renters insurance policy in the first place.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get renters insurance to cover your pit bull, just that getting a policy might take a little extra work. We list pit bull-friendly renters insurance companies further down in this article.
Why dog liability coverage is important for pit bull owners
If you’re like many owners, it might be hard to imagine your dog biting anyone, but it’s important to realize that any dog can bite when they’re startled or scared. That’s the case whether you own a pit bull, a Pomeranian, or a poodle.
For instance, let’s say you’re walking your dog and a stranger’s child runs up and yanks their tail. If your dog nips them and their family decides to sue, you could be liable for tens of thousands of dollars. In 2020, the average dog bite claim cost $50,425 — an amount that almost all of us would struggle to pay out of pocket.
If you have a renters insurance policy that covers your pit bull, your insurance company will take care of those fees for you.
How much dog liability coverage do I need?
Most policies provide $100,000 in personal liability coverage, which is enough to cover most dog bites.
However, pit bulls have strong jaws and can do serious damage (sometimes even by accident). If you think you might need more liability coverage, you can talk to your provider about purchasing an additional $100,000 to $200,000.
Commonly excluded dog breeds in renters insurance
As mentioned, many insurance carriers have “blacklisted” breeds that they won’t insure. These blacklists almost always include pit bulls.
Insurers often exclude the following breeds:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Belgian Malinois
- Chow Chows
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Pit Bulls
- Presa Canarios
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Siberian Huskies
- Staffordshire Terriers
Fair or unfair, those dogs have a reputation for being aggressive or unpredictable. Insurance companies say this makes them too much of a risk to cover.
If you own a dog that’s listed above, you’ll have to look for an insurance company that doesn’t have a strict breed blacklist.
Pit bull-friendly renters insurance companies
The following insurers all cover pit bulls to some extent:
Insurers that do not ask about dog breed at all
Currently, State Farm is the only insurance company that never asks about your dog’s breed when you buy renters insurance.
State Farm’s page about dog bites explains their rationale — according to them, ”It’s not the breed, it’s the dog bite.” This policy makes them one of the most pit bull-friendly insurers out there.
However, State Farm still reserves the right to deny coverage to dogs with a history of aggression (i.e. who have bitten people in the past), regardless of breed.
Insurers that cover pit bulls with no bite history
The following insurers ask whether you have a pit bull when you buy a policy. They still cover pit bulls, but to qualify for coverage, you have to certify that your dog is trained, neutered, and has no bite history:
- Liberty Mutual
Amica also sometimes covers pit bulls, but they decide on a case-by-case basis. They might send an inspector to your home to meet you and your pit bull before they decide whether or not to cover you.
Insurers that provide limited coverage to pit bull owners
The following insurers sometimes provide renters insurance to people who own pit bulls, but their coverage has significant limitations.
- American Family Insurance covers pit bulls, but only up to a $25,000 limit, which isn’t enough to cover most dog bite claims.
- Farmers Insurance provides renters insurance to pit bull owners, but specifically excludes pit bull-related liability from their policies. This means that you can get a renters insurance policy from them, but your pit bull won’t actually be covered.
- AAA also provides renters insurance but excludes pit bull liability from coverage.
- Jetty also excludes pit bull liability from their policies — but notes that the exclusions do not apply in California, Massachusetts, Maryland, or New Jersey.
- GEICO is a special case. They don’t actually provide renters insurance themselves, but if you get a quote from them, they’ll do their best to match you with a third-party company that will cover your pit bull. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that they’ll succeed.
Insurance companies with strict pit bull restrictions
The following companies usually deny coverage to pit bull owners. They’re strict enough that you won’t be able to get an online renters insurance quote from their website if you indicate that you own a pit bull.
- Erie Insurance
If you have a pit bull, it’s possible (but unlikely) that one of those insurers will make an exception for you. You’ll have to call and ask to speak to an agent to find out.
How having a pit bull affects your renters insurance costs
Insurance companies associate pit bulls with frequent and expensive bite claims. This translates to higher premiums for pit bull owners. The exact rate depends on the insurer and whether or not your dog has a bite history.
There’s one exception: If you get State Farm renters insurance, you can be certain they won’t charge you more if you own a pit bull (because they won’t ask about your dog breed at all). However, like other insurers, they might raise your premiums or decline to renew your policy if your dog actually bites someone.
Other insurance options for pit bulls
It’s not easy to get renters insurance for pit bulls. Fortunately, even if you can’t find a policy that includes the breed, you have other options.
You can look into the following types of insurance:
- Umbrella insurance
- Canine liability insurance
Option 1: Umbrella insurance
Umbrella insurance is a supplement to your renters insurance. An umbrella policy will cover situations that your normal policy excludes, or provide additional coverage when you file a claim that exceeds your policy’s limits.
The cost of umbrella insurance depends on your coverage limit. A standard umbrella insurance policy for renters usually provides between $1 million and $5 million of coverage. You can expect to pay about $380 per year (or a little bit more) for $1 million in coverage, whereas a $5 million policy might cost you closer to $600 a year.
To cover yourself and your dog with an umbrella policy, contact an insurance agent and ask them whether they offer (or can point you in the direction of) an umbrella policy with no pit bull exclusions.
Option 2: Canine liability insurance
Unlike umbrella insurance, which protects you from many different kinds of liability claims, canine liability insurance specifically covers your dog-related liability. If your dog bites someone or damages their property, it will pay for the damages and legal fees. However, it won’t cover any damage your dog does to your own property.
The price of canine liability insurance ranges from less than $100 per year on the low end to $1,000 per year on the high end. Your quote will depend on your dog’s size, history, and breed.
If you’re interested in this pit bull insurance option, start by asking your renters insurance company if they offer it. If not, you can get a policy from a niche insurer like:
- Einhorn Insurance Agency
- Lester Kalmanson Agency, Inc.
- Evolution Insurance Brokers
- Dean Insurance Agency, Inc. (formerly and adorably known as the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, or FIDO)
As always, shop around and read reviews before settling on an insurance provider.