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How Different Pets May Affect Your Home Insurance

April 26, 2019
3 mins
Family rests with their young son and pooch on moving day

Pet parents see their animals as part of the family. Your insurance company may see them differently. Technically, pets are property, and for an insurer, may represent a liability risk.

Home insurance is probably the last thing you think of when you bring a new furry, feathered or scaled friend into your life. Your job is to keep them safe and offer them companionship; but they may pose a danger to your visitors or violate local bylaws.

So when you're buying those new pet supplies, remember to think about home insurance. Keep in mind some breeds and species of animals can void your policy, or require additional coverage.

Why Do Pets Matter to Insurers?

When someone is injured on your property, they can sue you. Often, your home insurance will kick in in compliance with your liability coverage. Because they will be on the hook when something happens, insurers want to make sure the risk of such liability is as low as possible.

Having certain breeds of dog, exotic pets such as snakes, or other critters, sends up red flags for the company. Dog bites are the most-often discussed liability risk, since almost half of all dog bites happen on an owner's property.

It's also common for insurance policies to exclude coverage for homes for damage caused by illegal activities. While many contracts refer specifically to illegal substances and narcotics, these provisions may also apply to pets kept in violation of local laws. That might include some reptiles, big cats, wildlife or any other animals not permitted to be in your home.

Are All Pets Created Equal?

Back in 2012 an Edmonton family was shopping for home insurance and got some troubling news. One company refused to sell them insurance because they were guardians of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The dog was on the list of breeds held by the company that made them ineligible for insurance.

As it turns out, the family's experience was not unusual. Some insurance companies won't cover homes with certain types of dog. Others will offer you a policy, but insist you buy additional liability coverage. In other words, it matters what kind of pet you bring home, even if you love all your fur kids equally.

While some insurers consider coverage on a case-by-case basis, some won't cover pit bulls, Rottweilers, or dogs trained to attack -- even if the statistics don't necessarily support the claim that these breeds bite more frequently.

How You Can Protect Your Home

The good news is that you probably can find insurance. You just need to land on the right company. As with most issues with insurance, it starts with a conversation. Talk to your current insurer about your new family member. That gives you the chance to shop around if necessary, or to buy additional coverage.

After all, it's better to have the chat with your insurer now, and not when the time comes to put in a claim. You want to be able to rely on that safety net when the times comes.

Finding the Right Coverage

Your home insurance can be both comprehensive and affordable. If you are a new pet parent looking for the right coverage, check out the latest quotes on Rates.ca. Then you, Fido and Fluffy can sleep easy.

RATESDOTCA Team

The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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