Did you know that before January 28th of this year, you could be denied homeowner’s insurance in the state of New York, depending on what breed of dog you owned? It's true! The new law, signed on October 30, 2021, by Acting Governor Hochel, signed Senate Bill 4254 (now Chapter 545), which states, “With respect to homeowners’ insurance policies…no insurer shall refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium or rate…based solely upon harboring or owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds.”
Before this new legislation, it was common practice for insurance companies to deny homeowner’s insurance to pet owners of dogs from a long list of “banned” breeds that not only included German Shepherds and Huskies, but many large dogs exceeding 50 pounds; something that is often tough to predict when adopting a puppy from a shelter.
Homeowners in states outside of New York, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania still have insurance companies denying homeowners insurance based on breed, the following being just some of the “banned” breeds:
However, insurance companies may cancel, increase rates, or refuse to issue policies if an individual dog is declared dangerous, as defined in New York State Law, so long as the action is based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” and the action is reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss. However, the action cannot be based on the dog’s breed.
Some insurance companies, like State Farm Insurance, have been doing this. Instead of painting an entire breed of dog as troublemaking, agents look at the history of the dogs in question. The amount of dog bites occurring yearly is concerning, but so is the lack of follow-through with specific dogs and more careless owners, many of who have never been held accountable for past transgressions. Insurance companies have to cover things like hospital visits and reconstructive surgery. If a dog has had previous acts of aggression (regardless of breed), that dog’s owners would be forced to foot the bill out-of-pocket, thereby incentivizing pet parents to train their dogs to behave!