Video on website
Woman denied insurance
because of dog
Updated: Sunday, 17 May 2009, 11:53 PM EDT
Published : Sunday, 17 May 2009, 11:53 PM EDT
Story by: Sara Welch
Milford (WTNH) - One Milford woman was denied insurance coverage all because of the type of dog she owns. And, now she wants to warn other pet owners that they, too, may be at risk.
When it comes to her dog Pryor, Laura Pendleton treats him like family.
"He was a rescue dog," she said.
Pryor came from a Shelter 9-years ago. And since then, the Pitbull Mix has lived with Laura at her home in Milford without any trouble. She's got paperwork from the vet to prove it.
"He said he is an asset to society and he's a loyal, fun-loving, neutered dog," said Laura.
So, when it came time to renew her homeowner's insurance policy, Laura thought nothing of filling out a questionnaire that asked whether a dog lived at the residence and if so what breed.
"And I said American Staffordshire Terrier and two days later I got the renewal notice denied," she said. "And the reason they gave was that he is an unacceptable mix."
So what changed? Why was Laura being dropped by The Hartford? News Channel 8 asked Laura's insurance agent.
"Initially my understanding is the was a terrier mix and that did not present a problem," said Insurance Agent Don Burns. "And on a questionnaire, she indicated the dog was a Pitbull, but breed Pitbull which is going to cause a problem with just about every insurance company in the world."
"When I called him that night I got the cancellation notice he told me that perhaps I was too forthcoming on the questionnaire; that upset me even more," said Laura. "I don't think it's fair to be punished on a breed."
But it's not just Pitbulls that are considered a risk by insurance companies. Other breeds like Rottweilers, Doberman Pincher and German Shepherds are sometimes questioned. It all depends on the insurance company you are dealing with.
"I think it's discrimination," said Laura.
State Senator Ed Myers proposed legislation that forbids insurance companies from denying homeowners insurance because of a specific breed.
It would all allow homeowners to get insurance at a higher premium if their dog has bitten someone before.
"I think there is a way out of this and we are going to do this legislatively," said Sen. Myers.
What does the state insurance department have to say?
"Connecticut does allow insurance companies to exclude a specific breed based on risk. It does not allow insurance companies blanket exclusions for all breeds of dogs because the state says that would be unfairly discriminatory to dog owners."
This means insurance companies cannot have a policy that says no dogs will be covered.
The state said because of competition there are insurance companies that will insure pet owners like Laura who says Pryor is staying put.
"Cause he is not going anywhere, he's just not, he's been part of the family for too long," Laura said.
Laura has since found an insurance company that will cover her dog. The legislation may be heard in the coming weeks.
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/fc/2005HB-06 ... 253-FC.htm
File No. 253
January Session, 2005
Substitute House Bill No. 6543
House of Representatives, April 11, 2005
The Committee on Insurance and Real Estate reported through REP. O'CONNOR of the 35th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the House, that the substitute bill ought to pass.
AN ACT CONCERNING HOMEOWNERS AND TENANTS INSURANCE UNDERWRITING BASED ON BREED OF DOG.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2005) (a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, with respect to a policy for personal risk insurance, as defined in section 38a-663 of the general statutes, delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended or continued in this state on or after October 1, 2005, no insurer may use the breed of dog owned by the insured as a basis for (1) establishing rates or minimum premiums under the policy, or (2) cancelling, refusing to renew or refusing to issue such policy.
(b) An insurer may establish rates or minimum premiums under such policy or cancel, refuse to renew or refuse to issue such policy on the basis of (1) the insurer's evaluation of the risk presented by the specific dog owned by the insured, or (2) claims history with respect to the specific dog owned by the insured. Such claims history shall be limited to claims paid because the dog has bitten or attacked a person or animal during the three-year period immediately preceding the renewal or issue date of the policy.
This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:
October 1, 2005
Joint Favorable Subst.
The following fiscal impact statement and bill analysis are prepared for the benefit of members of the General Assembly, solely for the purpose of information, summarization, and explanation, and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either House thereof for any purpose:
OFA Fiscal Note
State Impact: None
Municipal Impact: None
The bill prohibits personal risk insurers from considering an insured’s dog’s breed when setting policy rates or minimum premiums. The bill has no fiscal impact.
OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING HOMEOWNERS AND TENANTS INSURANCE UNDERWRITING BASED ON BREED OF DOG
This bill prohibits personal risk insurers from considering an insured’s dog’s breed when setting policy rates or minimum premiums. It also prohibits such insurers from using the dog’s breed as the reason for canceling, not renewing, or not issuing a policy.
But, the bill permits such insurers to set rates and premiums and cancel, not renew, or not issue a policy based on (1) a risk evaluation of the insured’s dog or (2) claims paid because the insured’s dog bit or attacked a person or animal during the three years immediately preceding the policy renewal or issue date.
Personal risk insurance includes homeowners, tenants, private passenger automobile, mobile home, and other property and casualty insurance for personal, family, or household needs. The bill applies to personal risk insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended, or continued on and after October 1, 2005.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2005
Insurance and Real Estate Committee
Joint Favorable Substitute