Editor’s note: Following publication, Allstate provided a statement regarding its homeowner pet policies. This article has been modified to reflect that statement.
A local family say they were shocked to learn that their rescue dog, an American Bulldog, would cost them their homeowner’s insurance. They are sharing their story to help others who are similarly unaware.
Stefanie McCormick of Roblin said her family received an online newsletter from their insurance company that contained an article about dogs and home insurance. Allstate’s newsletter stated that “some of the dog breeds that may not be covered by your insurer are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, mixed breeds where one of the above breeds are predominant, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terrier, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Siberian Huskies, or any breed where the dog has a history of aggressive or vicious behaviour.” The newsletter is a generic document, according to Allstate, and the list of breeds listed therein is not specific to its own policies. Regarding Allstate’s own dog breed restrictions, the company said in a statement, “Allstate does not provide property, condo, or tenant insurance to anyone who owns or lives with Pit Bulls, Rottweilers or mixed breeds where one of the aforementioned is predominant.”
After receiving the newsletter, McCormick was confused. “Apparently, what kind of dog you have determines what your insurance is like,” said McCormick. “I didn’t understand, [so] I called them up.”
She said her insurance agent in Petawawa asked what kind of dog she had. Before answering, McCormick was wary and asked what dogs were restricted. “He said Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and the mix of the two,” she recalled. The McCormicks have a seven-year-old American Bulldog, but McCormick said she was told, “To Allstate, they’re considered basically the same.”
McCormick expressed her disbelief and asked the agent how they could discriminate against animals simply because the animal has a bad reputation. According to McCormick, he replied, ‘Well, if you have any of those dogs, we’re going to drop you. We’re not going to insure you.”
McCormick relayed that she asked if there was another option, noting, “I have a fenced-in yard and my home is outside of a small town. If anybody comes into my yard and she bites, I said, I can take responsibility. Couldn’t they still insure my house?” But the agent told her, “No, we can’t do that,” McCormick reported.
For context, McCormick gave details about her dog: “I rescued her when she was four weeks old from a puppy mill. And she almost died three times before she was four months old because she was so sick with parvo[virus], distemper, infested with worms, fleas, everything… I look at my dog and it breaks my heart because she’s never hurt anybody. She’s never been aggressive. She is the most loving, loyal animal. She’s around my one-year-old daughter and [my daughter is] obsessed with her.”
Complicating the story, McCormick said, her family bought their home and insurance policy in December 2020 and were asked at the time what kind of dogs they had, “And my husband said, ‘I have two boxers, and I have an American Bulldog.’”
McCormick has learned since that she isn’t the only person unaware of the policy. “I contacted my broker, and I said, ‘okay, Allstate is a no go anymore’… She was so upset and said ‘I’ve never heard of that; I have a Rottweiler, and now I have to go check my insurance policy.’”
McCormick asked the broker to find a company that would provide her with home insurance, but two days later she still had not found one. Knowing their insurance provider was likely to drop them as clients as a result of having told them they own a dog on the restricted breed list, the family scrambled to find a solution.
Luckily, McCormick shared her story on the Facebook group What’s Going on Napanee? in order to make others aware, and L&A Mutual Insurance agent, Todd Steele, replied that he would like to help.
Steele said that, as a local insurance company, he tries his best to help people locally with their insurance needs, and in this case, he thought he could do business with the McCormicks. “People enjoy bashing insurance companies, but we’re local; we look at our customers every day. We see them on the street, we see them at the grocery store,” he expressed.
L&A Mutual doesn’t have a banned dog list and, in fact, Steele said he is not aware of anyone ever making a dog biting claim with his company.
“But,” he explained, “all insurance companies have different risks they’re willing to accept. Some don’t like multiple traffic tickets, some don’t even like one speeding ticket. So, it’s likely a set rule they have [about what breeds of dogs they accept]… But it’s always good to shop around.”
The McCormicks are thankful to L&A Mutual and Todd Steele.
“I contacted him right away… he drew up a whole policy… By the end of the day yesterday he had a quote for me and I was so impressed… he bent over backwards to get me an amazing policy,” Stefanie McCormick explained with relief.
“He knew how upset and how concerned I was about this whole dog thing. They’re my babies, right?”
Following publication of this article, Allstate provided a statement. “Allstate Canada is a dog-friendly company that recognizes most dogs are safe and reliable companions for their owners. However, the Government of Ontario has banned Pit Bulls and the company simply cannot provide property, condo, or tenant insurance to anyone who owns or lives with an illegal animal.”