As the battle to end breed discrimination rages on, Connecticut homeowners and Bully lovers have gained a powerful ally. Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, is backing a bill that would make it illegal for insurance underwriters to deny coverage or charge higher premiums to homeowners who have breeds commonly discriminated against.
The bill, entitled “an act prohibiting breed of dog as an underwriting factor for homeowners insurance policies” was referred to the Committee on Insurance and Real Estate. Rep. Kupchick has said that she decided to back the bill after hearing from several constituents that they have had to pay higher rates, have been denied coverage, or have been compelled to lie about their dogs’ breeds in order to obtain insurance.
She told the Hartford Courant:
There are people who literally will have their insurance dropped because they have a certain breed of dog, which I think is ridiculous.
Kupchick has several Beagles – a breed not traditionally the subject of discriminatory practices – but as a dog lover she feels for the Connecticut pawrents who must constantly defend their breeds. Pit Bull-type Terriers, Rottweilers, and those pups featuring “Bully” characteristics are among the breeds most often targeted by insurance carriers.
As positive as the bill may sound, there are some industry advocates who feel that its passage would increase homeowner’s insurance costs for all Connecticut buyers. Eric George, president of the Insurance Association of Connecticut, believes that a higher rate is justified for “Bully” pawrents because owning these breeds brings greater liability to the insurance carrier.
According to George, if the law were passed all Connecticut homeowner premiums would be raised in order to “subsidize” the few owners of “dangerous” breeds.
The cost is going to have to go somewhere, so all other policies are going to be subject to premium raises. The costs are the costs and if you can’t get appropriate premiums from the more risky claimants then, obviously, costs are going to have to be allocated everywhere.
Data collected by the Insurance Information Institute found that more than a third of the claims filed against homeowner’s insurance policies in 2015 (the most recent year that data was available) were related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries. These claims cost insurers $570 million in 2015. No data on the breeds of dogs involved in the incidents was provided for the III study.
Robert Megna, state representative for New Haven, said that he proposed a similar bill about ten years ago. While it was passed in the House, it never went before the Senate for a vote.
Megna now serves as co-chairman of the Committee on Insurance and Real Estate and is eager to set a hearing for the new bill. He feels that policy rate increases would not be a problem if the bill were to pass thanks to the amount of healthy competition within the insurance industry.
Wherever your home is there’s 60 companies that you’re going to be able to buy insurance from.
For what it’s worth, State Farm insurance does not discriminate against dog breed and has a high rate of customer satisfaction and average pricing. So clearly, this sort of thing can be done without creating a heavy burden on the customer.