How owning a pet impacts your property insurance

Puppy with teddy bear

A dog is a member of the family for some people, and they want nothing more than to shower them with love and affection. However, did you know that your pet could actually impact your insurance? No matter how cute your furry friend is, an insurer has to view them objectively and, like with anything, assess how much of a risk they pose.

How does my pet affect my insurance?

It doesn’t matter if you live in an area susceptible to floods, have a high number of valuables in your home or you just brought home a puppy-home insurance providers assess the risk associated with all aspects of your property. If you are a pet owner, be prepared for your insurer to possibly discriminate against you having a pet.

For the most part, when it comes to home insurance hikes, they tend to relate to dogs. In North America, 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year, with about 900,000 of these requiring medical treatment. Even the most well trained dog can act unexpectedly if they are forced into an uncomfortable situation. If you find yourself on the other end of this kind of scenario, you might find yourself with a hefty bill to pay should someone be injured on your property. Luckily, that's where your home insurance provider will step in and cover the costs for you-so long as you are covered.

Liability coverage

Like with any accident that happens on your property, you are considered liable. If there is a chance that your pet could pose a threat to people in your home, or surrounding it, then you may find you have an increased rate, need to purchase higher liability coverage, or even be denied insurance all together.

The good news is, most homeowners insurance policies cover dog bites as part of liability coverage. So whether its an injury bill or the bill for damaged possessions, your insurer is likely to swoop in and save the day.

Are some breeds considered more of a risk?

Unfortunately, some insurers are more discriminatory towards some breeds than others. Quite often, larger dogs are given a black mark, not because they are more likely to attack, but rather because of the level of injury they can inflict with just one bite. In fact, according to a study from the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal, large dogs aren’t any more likely to bite than small ones. Siberian Huskies, Greyhounds, Pit Bulls and even Rottweilers were all marked as fairly calm dogs, while the two of the tiniest breeds-Dachshund and Chihuahua-scored as the more aggressive dogs.

For the most part, the behaviour of an animal is little to do with its breed, and is more to do with how it has been raised and the situation it is in. Try to socialise your animal, treat it with love and respect, and not force it into a situation where it feels the need to defend itself.

What about other types of animal?

While generally you probably don’t need to worry too much about your hamster or guinea pig, some people are into slightly more exotic animals. In general, because exotic pets are classed as wild animals and deemed harder to control, it is unlikely that your home insurance will cover them. Instead it is recommended that you look into taking out a specialist insurance policy for your pet. However, if your animal is a domesticated pet- such as a horse of a potbellied pig- they actually should be covered because of their nature.

 

Overall the best thing you can do is double check with your insurer to see if they cover your pet, or if you need to increase your premium or purchase any additional liability coverage. It is always better to be safe than sorry. If your insurer isn’t offering the kind of protection you need, perhaps it is time to search the market and see what other policies are on offer.

 

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