Dogs take bite out of homeowners insurance

The breed-specific legislative debate
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Breed profiling by some homeowners insurance companies followed a wave of breed-specific legislation by state and municipal governments to curb dog attacks, according to Cunningham.

"Highly-publicized, pit bull attacks in the 1980s led to knee-jerk reactions by many communities and objections to breed discrimination by dog owners," he says.

According to the American Kennel Club, only Ohio has a breed-specific dog law, in this case aimed at pit bull owners. However, a handful of states prohibit breed-specific legislation by local governments, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Only Pennsylvania and Michigan have laws that prohibit insurers from canceling or denying coverage based on breed, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

A spokeswoman of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in Kansas City, Mo., says regulation of breed-specific underwriting varies by state.

"Some states allow (homeowners) insurance companies to attach a policy endorsement to exclude coverage for animal liability; these generally list the breed," she says. "Some insurance departments will allow exclusion of an entire breed of dog, but the company will need to provide sufficient documentation to support the exclusion."




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