What Is a Canine Liability Exclusion?

Canine liability exclusion is a homeowner insurance policy endorsement that prevents the insurer from being liable for injuries or property damage caused by a canine owned by the insured individual. Insurance endorsements are amendments in the form of modifications of or additions to the original policy.

Understanding a Canine Liability Exclusion

Canine liability exclusion may apply only to certain breeds of dogs that insurers consider to be more aggressive, and thus more likely to cause injury or property damages that result in claims.

When deciding whether to provide insurance to a homeowner, insurance companies examine the potential risks of a claim being made against the policy. In the case of homeowners, one risk is bodily injury or property damage caused by pets that the homeowner may own. The claim costs from canine attacks could be substantial, an estimated $1 billion annually according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Without an exclusion, the insurer providing coverage to a homeowner with an animal is too risky.

The need for a canine liability exclusion arose because many insurers were reluctant to insure homeowners who owned or had control of certain breeds of dogs they considered aggressive. This is an issue for insurance companies because dog-related damage is the leading cause of homeowners' insurance claims.

The Scope of Canine Liability Exclusions

While insurance companies consider canines to be the most aggressive pets, companies may also include an endorsement that will deny claims for injuries and damages caused by other animals. Animal owners may purchase a separate liability policy or add-on that provides coverage for damages from animal attacks.

Insurance companies have two primary options when determining the scope of a canine liability exclusion. In some cases, the insurance company will determine which breeds of dogs are excluded from coverage or may exclude all dogs by default. In other cases, the insurance company may follow state statutes when determining which breeds are ineligible for coverage. Some breeds of canine, such as German shepherds, pit bulls, and Rottweilers, are generally considered more aggressive and thus riskier. These breeds may be blacklisted from policy coverage altogether. However, even less risky breeds may bite someone. Because of this, insurance companies will default to excluding all breeds of dogs from insurance coverage.

Many states consider pets with a bite history to be more dangerous and risky. Therefore owners of pets with a dog bite history, are required by certain states and regions to carry proper animal liability coverage.