What Is a Canine Liability Exclusion?

A canine liability exclusion is a type of clause that is often included in homeowner insurance contracts. Its purpose is to release the insurer from any liability relating to injuries or property damage caused by dogs. 

Canine liability exclusions are just one of many types of exclusions that can be included in an insurance policy, either in the original document or in the form of a follow-up amendment.

Key Takeaways

  • A canine liability exclusion is a component of homeowner’s insurance policies.
  • It indemnifies the insurance company against damages caused by the policyholder’s dogs.
  • Although policyholders may be able to specifically purchase insurance for their dogs separately, this could be expensive, especially if the dog has a history of biting people or causing property damage.

How Canine Liability Exclusions Work

Homeowner’s insurance is a popular type of insurance policy that covers claims related to private homes. These types of policies insurance against many typical risks faced by homeowners, such as theft or damage due to water, fire, or vandalism. While some policies only specify certain risks that are covered, others cover all risks with the exception of those specifically excluded.

Generally speaking, the types of risks that would be excluded from coverage under a homeowner’s insurance policy include large catastrophes such as earthquakes or wars, or acts that could be attributed to the owner’s own negligence. At times, however, other risks may also be excluded, such as exclusions for canine liability.

The need for a canine liability exclusion arose because many insurers felt reluctant to insure homeowners who owned certain breeds of dogs that are considered aggressive. After all, dogs have the potential to cause property damage, or worse, physical injury that could result in lawsuits and substantial liabilities. If the policyholder wants to make sure that they are covered for this risk, they will need to purchase a separate policy or add-on that provides this coverage. This, however, would increase their total insurance premiums and may even require them to obtain a separate policy from another insurer.

Real World Example of a Canine Liability Exclusion

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. For owners of these dog breeds, it may be prohibitively expensive to insure their dogs, and some insurers may even refuse to insure them altogether. This is especially true if the dog in question has a history of having bitten people or having caused other forms of damage.