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Owning certain pets may impact your home insurance coverage

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Did you know that some home insurance companies may not cover you if you own a specific breed of dog?

It’s a lesson an Alberta family recently learned and wants to warn other pet owners to check their policies.

Lorraine McLeod is the proud owner of Odie, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

“They’re a really good breed, they absolutely love people, they’re not a mean dog,” she said, “They’re so friendly, and they’re so misunderstood and it’s unfair.”

McLeod was recently shopping around to try and find a less expensive premium on her home insurance. While inquiring, she was shocked to learn that many companies would not insure her because she owned a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

“(I was told) ‘Oh no, they’re on our list of the dogs, and we won’t insure your home’ and I said ‘Are you serious?’ I was actually shocked,” McLeod explained, “I was absolutely stunned.”

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McLeod says the company wouldn’t provide the list stating which breeds of dogs are included in the policy.

The president of Pitbulls for Life- an Edmonton-based organization that assists in the rescue and rehabilitation of unwanted pit bulls in Alberta- doesn’t agree with the policy and wishes people wouldn’t discriminate against dogs based on their breed.

“A dog is a dog,” said Tia Lenz, “It seems silly to me that one breed of dog is discriminated against. If they want dogs insured then they should insure all dogs.”

Heather Mack from the Insurance Bureau of Canada says for some insurance companies, it comes down to a liability issue.

“We know from statistics and evidence that pit bulls are not more likely to bite and they’re not more vicious in their attacks but, because of the public myth or belief about this particular breed of dog, an injured person might be more likely to sue the owner,” explained Mack.

However, Mack says it’s a very competitive market and for every company that says it won’t insure you, there will be dozens that will say yes to your business.

McLeod is urging other pet owners to check their insurance policies to ensure their animals are covered, and phone around when inquiring about insurance.

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“Brokerages are probably the best. I’ve phoned a couple of brokers and they’ve said ‘We will find you someone.'”

In the end, McLeod stuck with her current insurance company because it will provide coverage for her home, even with Odie.

“A dog is as good as its owner, and if you bring your dog up properly, whether it’s a rottweiler, a pit bull, a chihuahua, a shih tzu, it doesn’t matter,” said McLeod.

Global News has confirmed the following insurance companies will not provide coverage to people who own certain animals:

– Canadian Direct Insurance (animals include rottweilers, pit bulls, boa constrictors, monkeys, pythons or any other pets with aggressive history)
– Allstate Insurance Company of Canada (animals include pit bulls and rottweilers however, a spokesperson says coverage is determined on a case-by-case basis)

Global News has confirmed the following insurance companies will provide coverage for people who own any breed of dog:

– Royal Bank of Canada
– Intact Insurance*
– State Farm Canada*

The McLeod family found the following companies will not provide coverage to people who own certain breeds of dogs:

– Scotiabank
– Alberta Motor Association
– All State Desjardins

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The McLeod family found the following companies will provide coverage for people who own any breed of dog:

– Johnson Inc.
– TD Insurance

* Both Intact Insurance and State Farm Canada say customers will be asked questions about their dogs’ history, where the animal is kept, and whether or not there is a fence.

Should insurance companies be able to deny coverage because of pets?

With files from Julie Matthews. 

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