If you’re planning to get a dog, you would probably imagine adding a pit bull to your family would increase the cost of your homeowner’s insurance policy more than a poodle or a mutt, but it turns out that’s not necessarily the case.

“It might, it may not, it may depend on the breed, it may depend on the surrounding of the dog, and how it was bred," said Christine O’Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey.

She pointed out “insurers typically don’t consider the breed of the dog, but they will consider what is the potential loss experience.”

O’Brien explained as far as your insurance company is concerned, when there is a dog on the premises, “it’s just another risk factor that goes into writing the homeowner’s policy.”

She pointed out the cost of adding a dog to your homeowner’s insurance policy will vary from company to company.

“The good news is that there’s 120 insurance companies writing homeowners insurance in New Jersey, so as homeowners we definitely have a choice to shop around, and see what’s the best coverage out there for your dog,” she said.

O’Brien says a homeowner’s policy does cover dog bite liability legal expenses, and in your policy that can run between $100,000 to $300,000.

She said while no specific figures are available for New Jersey, the average claim that involved a dog bite nationwide “was paid out at an average of $37,000, which suggests dog bite claims are a high risk.

But sometimes that’s not the case.

“There is no list of bad dogs that insurance companies refer to,” she said. “And because different insurance companies follow different guidelines, some may consider a particular breed more of a security dog, and write that dog accordingly, as if it was even a home security system.”

As far as how much a dog typically bump up your homeowners insurance, O’Brien said “it could range anywhere from less than a hundred dollars (added) to your policy, to, depending how many dogs are on site and the experience of the dog, a substantial amount more.”

She said if someone plans to go out and get a dog, the bottom line is “they should speak to their homeowner’s insurance company first just to see what the potential liability is.”

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