People are fond of saying that there are no bad dogs—only bad dog owners. If that is true, why is there breed-specific legislation outlawing the ownership of some breeds? Certain dog breeds are often identified as more dangerous by insurance companies, which continues to affect policy pricing and coverage.
Some homeowner’s insurance providers have included ownership of some breeds as a premise for increased rate structures or outright exclusion. Policies may still be available but could include additional premiums or breed-specific exclusions on coverage. In addition to insurance limitations, state law may also require that you take certain measures if you have a dog that’s previously bitten or attacked.
My Fluffy Is Not Dangerous!
An article inForbespublished a list of dog breeds most often singled out for exclusion by insurance companies, such as Doberman pinschers, pit bulls, and Rottweilers. Many of the listed animals have received negative publicity for biting incidents. Still, many pet owners wonder if this is truly a fault in the breed or simply media hype.
As of 2020, 21 states had enacted statewide Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) banning certain breeds. (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Conversely, 29 states have no statewide legislation but permit municipalities to pass BSL within their communities. Some states even have legislation making it illegal for insurance providers to have exclusionary policies.
Georgia regulates dogs under the “Responsible Dog Ownership Law,” enacted in 2012. (O.C.G.A. § 4-8-20 – 4-8-33) While Georgia has no statewide ban on certain dog breeds, local municipalities do enforce some breed restrictions. For instance, Marietta municipal code prohibits Rottweiler and pit bull owners from utilizing local off-leash areas, including dog parks. Atlanta attempted to add BSL in 2017 via “Logan’s Law,” but public pushback stalled the legislation against pit bulls and Border collies.
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12 Breeds Most Likely to Be Excluded by Insurers
Unless you are in a state that prohibits insurers from excluding certain dog breeds from coverage, you are likely to see some companies using a blacklist that includes these 12 breeds:
- Pit bulls
- Staffordshire terriers
- German shepherds
- Doberman pinschers
- Chow chows
- Alaskan malamutes
- Siberian huskies
- Presa Canarios
- Great Danes
Other breeds that are frequently blacklisted include Mastiffs, Cane Corsos, Labrador retrievers, Saint Bernards, collies, spaniels, and Jack Russell Terriers. Not surprisingly, almost every listed dog falls into the large-breed category.
Is There Any Basis for Breed-Specific Exclusions?
There is a lack of evidence supporting BSL and exclusionary insurance practices.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has denounced the value of BSL in the past. In a historic report that is often cited by critics of BSL, the CDC notes that the number of fatal dog attacks changes over time, and the certain types of dog breeds associated with these fatal attacks also change over time. Instead of supporting BSL, the CDC has advocated for dangerous and vicious dog laws that prevent dangerous animals from freely roaming off of private property.
Even without the evidence proving these policies make our communities safer, insurance companies will continue to add breed-specific riders to homeowners’ policies.
Unfortunately, insurance providers are not obligated to abide by evidence-backed statistics on dangerous dogs when charging you more for your coverage or canceling your policy.
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Georgia’s “Responsible Dog Ownership Law” May Affect Your Insurance
Georgia’s law is often called the “Dangerous Dog Law.” The legislation places responsibility on dog owners to regulate and control their pet’s behavior.
Dangerous Dogs That Cause Minor Injury
If your pet injures or kills someone else’s pet or bites without seriously harming a human, the dog may be deemed dangerous. Georgia law requires dangerous dog owners to:
- Apply for a certificate of registration for the dog.
- Maintain a secure enclosure for the dog.
- Post in clear view around your property that a dangerous dog lives there.
Punishment for failing to abide by the above provisions could lead to fines or other penalties for the pet owner.
Vicious Dogs That Cause Serious Injury
If your pet causes serious injury during a biting incident and seriously harms a human, it could be deemed a vicious dog. In this case, you will be required to:
- Obtain specific liability insurance with a minimum of $50,000 in coverage.
- Have your dog microchipped.
This additional insurance coverage is required to offset the medical costs of anyone who is seriously injured by your dog. These requirements may not seem too bad at first glance, but they could also affect your homeowner’s policy. After all, a homeowner’s insurance provider may not be willing to offer coverage if your dog bit someone and is deemed dangerous. If you’re in this situation, a lawyer could help you understand your coverage options.
If your dog seriously harms someone a second time, you and the animal could face additional consequences, and the dog could be euthanized (humanely put down).
Do You Have Questions About Dog Bite Laws and Insurance?
Certain dog breeds are often identified as more dangerous by insurers. However, the truth is that any dog could be dangerous. If you are a victim hurt by a dangerous dog, we can help you seek compensation for adog bite injury.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers with your questions. We offer free case reviews.