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Ohio Liability Insurance Requirements for Owning a Pit Bull

| Updated September 26, 2017

Ohio residents who love pit bulls used to be required to carry a large liability insurance policy if they wanted to keep their pets. Since 2012, those requirements no longer apply to any specific breed. However, some pit bull and other breed owners may need to hold onto those policies if their local jurisdiction requires them.

Background of Insurance Requirement

In 1987, Ohio passed a law stating that pit bulls were naturally vicious dogs, regardless of actual temperament. Fourteen years later, the state passed another bill that required owners of vicious dogs, including pit bulls, to maintain liability insurance of at least $100,000. At that time, the term “pit bull” referred to the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and any other dog that looked like one of those breeds as determined by the county dog warden.

In May 2012, Ohio changed its laws and eliminated breed-specific rules meaning pit bulls are no longer automatically classified as vicious. Like other breeds, they only will be classified as dangerous if their behavior warrants such a label based on the newly established state guidelines.

Current Rules & Liability Coverage

The revised law now recognizes three categories of problem dogs and none are breed specific. These categories and their definitions are:

  • Nuisance: If a dog chases or tries to bite someone without provocation.
  • Dangerous: If a dog tries to injure someone, kills another dog without provocation or is caught running loose three times.
  • Vicious: If a dog kills or seriously injures someone, unless the victim was trespassing or engaged in criminal activity on the dog owner's property.

Owners of dogs classified as either dangerous or vicious are required to carry $100,000 in liability insurance.

These revised laws do not overturn local or county laws that have breed-specific guidelines requiring insurance coverage. That means some pit bull owners in Ohio may be required to buy policies or meet other standards to keep their pets.

Finding Liability Insurance

For individuals who do need liability insurance because their dog has been labeled dangerous or vicious, obtaining that coverage can be challenging. Many insurance companies will not provide coverage in those cases because of the risk. Other insurance companies still have breed-specific restrictions on coverage, so someone who owns a pit bull may be turned down for a policy even if the dog has not been deemed a risk to others. A few insurance companies do offer coverage to anyone regardless of their dog’s breed. The Federation of Insured Dog Owners also offers policies without those types of restrictions.