As the adage goes, “dogs are a man’s best friend.” For many, dogs are members of the family; for some, dogs are like children. For that reason, can it really come as a surprise that dogs are a popular topic amongst those browsing for homeowner’s insurance policies. In this week’s Title Tidbit, we’ll discuss the types of dogs covered by homeowner’s insurance policies, how dog-related coverages apply, and to whom they apply.

Depending on the breed of dog you own, finding a proper homeowner’s policy can be ruff. Many homeowner’s insurance policies come with what is called a “hot dog list.” This is a list of dog breeds that can lead to higher rates or even a denial of coverage. If your dog or dog breed of choice has a history of biting, you’ll often be denied homeowner’s insurance or forced to pay extra for special liability coverage. While the hot dog list varies from company to company, many of its members overlap. Typical hot dogs are rottweilers, mastiffs, wolves, pit bulls, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, and more.

If you have one of these often misunderstood and misrepresented hot dogs, you may feel inclined to neglect to inform your agent when searching for homeowner’s insurance policies. However, I would have to advise you to be up front with your agent. While you may have to shop around a little bit more than the average homebuyer, it sure beats the alternative.

Let’s say that you buy a brand-new home, but you fail to disclose ownership of “Tiny,” your 200-pound Great Dane, upon purchasing your Homeowner’s Insurance. A few years go by, and a hurricane (we see a lot of those here in Florida) severely damages your home. Luckily, your entire family, and Tiny were unharmed. Sounds good, right? Well, sort of. That is, until your insurance adjuster comes by to assess your claim and nearly gets run over by Tiny and his friendly kisses. The adjuster realizes Tiny’s been in the family for years, long before purchasing this home. As a result, your insurance claim gets denied, leaving you and your family responsible for the thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your home.

If you’ve got a big, fluffy friend that will be moving into your new home with you, look into an animal liability policy. This is a separate policy that covers bites, scratches, and pet-related damage to your home. If you purchase an animal liability policy, most insurers won’t deny you a Homeowner’s Insurance policy based on your dog breed.

Some other things to note: Homeowner’s Insurance covers dog bites, but only if the person bitten was not a resident of the home. The intention of homeowner’s insurance is to protect your assets, so this coverage is to provide you with a cushion in the case of a lawsuit or medical expenses for an outside party related to a bite. When it comes to you and your family, you’re accepting responsibility for any incidents inflicted upon residents of the home. It works the same way for pet-related damage. Most insurers won’t provide coverage if your dog chews up your own home, but they will provide coverage to reimburse a neighbor for their chewed-up fence. However, most insurers won’t cover it if YOU chew up your neighbor’s fence.

Four-legged friends are a staple of the American household. While these policies may seem expensive at first glance, they are a small price to pay for your fur-ever friend.