While your German shepherd may be an excellent watchdog and deterrent for potential burglars, most likely he isn't as vigilant or helpful in the battle against increasing homeowners' insurance premiums. It might not be fair or earned by every dog, but this breed's aggressive reputation can be costly.
The American Veterinary Medical Association notes that the German shepherd breed is highly represented in biting incidents in a variety of dog bite studies. This fact is backed up by the statistics from the Dog Bite Law Center, indicating that 44 percent of all bite cases on a yearly basis involve German shepherd dogs. With nearly 800,000 dog bites occurring each year, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and costing nearly $165 million to treat, that 44 percent is a significant enough number to give homeowners' insurance underwriters pause when writing a policy for a domicile with a German shepherd in residence. The concern is further validated by the Dog Bite Law Center's assertion that 70 percent of all bite incidents occur on the dog owner's private property.
A Difficult Dog to Insure
U.S. News and World Report indicates that virtually no regular homeowners' insurance company will issue a policy for a house where a German shepherd lives. It is no wonder as Forbes Magazine indicates the German shepherd ranks No. 4 on a non-alphabetized list of 11 of dog breeds that most insurance companies resist insuring. What insurance companies don't resist is issuing an umbrella policy such as a canine liability policy, according to Dog Bite Law. This comes with an additional price tag.
What is a Canine Liability Policy?
Dog Bite Law explains that a canine liability policy is a policy written specifically for dog owners for the purpose of insuring the dogs and or their human companions in instances when a homeowner or renter cannot cannot obtain other coverage for potential injury, damages or losses caused by the actions of the dog. It is a type of umbrella policy that is becoming necessary due to increasing state and municipal laws and penalties regarding dog bites and restitution when injury occurs. In most cases, this type of policy can only be purchased in conjunction with standard homeowners' policies and not as a stand-alone product.
How Much More will Canine Liability Cost?
Pet Liability Insurance indicates that most policies aimed at protecting owners from the financial liability posed by their pets' misadventures cost between $100 and $400 per year. These misadventures include bite incidents but also cover damage to property -- yours or your neighbors -- that was not malicious but instead an unintended consequence of normal canine behavior. Bottom end policies provide $100,000 in coverage. The top-end of available coverage ranges up to $1 million.
- Pet Place: Dog Breeds That Will Raise Your Home Owners Insurance Rates
- Forbes: 11 Riskiest Dog Breeds for Homeowners and Renters
- Dog Bite Law: Where To Get Dog Owner Liability Insurance
- Insurance Information Institute: Dog Bite Liability
- Dog Bite Law Center: Dog Bite Statistics
- American Kennel Club: AKC Dog Registration Statistics
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.