Insurance Companies Need to Stop Being ‘Breedist’
If you don’t have a Pit Bull, Doberman, Rottweiler or another allegedly “dangerous” dog breed, you may not be aware that most major U.S. insurance companies refuse to provide home or rental insurance for the owners of these dogs.
Banning certain types of dogs based solely on their breed or appearance is often referred to as “breedism.” It’s not surprising that every major animal welfare organization, including the ASPCA, HSUS, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and others, opposes it because it unfairly punishes well-behaved dogs and responsible owners. Fortunately, breed-specific legislation (BSL), laws that ban certain dogs, has been repealed in most places where it was enacted, most notably in Denver last year.
Too bad most insurance companies aren’t part of that trend. According to an April 2021 Forbes article that surveyed 42 homeowners insurance companies, Pit Bulls, Dobermans, and Rottweilers are banned by 100% of these companies.
Why are insurance companies so breedist? “We are in the business of evaluating risk, and based on what we know, the dogs on our ‘uninsurable list’ pose a higher risk,” an unidentified Allstate Insurance representative told Psychology Today in 2014.
“Higher risk?” According to the AVMA’s “Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: The Role of Breed” report, the breeds that bite the most frequently include Jack Russell Terriers, Spaniels, Collies and Labrador Retrievers.
Yet not one of these breeds is banned by the 42 insurance companies surveyed by Forbes.
Could this be because insurance companies are racist as well as breedist? “The use of breed lists has a detrimental impact on three groups—uninformed consumers, people of color, and consumers of low or moderate means,” a coalition of animal welfare groups wrote in a November 2020 letter to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) urging an end to banned breed lists.
The group, which includes the Animal Defense League, American Kennel Club, Best Friends Animal Society and others, pointed out a strong correlation between Pit Bulls and the Black community.
“Scholars opine that this is especially true as it relates to breed-specific laws, which may be a product of the fear associated with stereotypical images and activities of minority groups,” the group wrote. “This fear may also be associated with an insurance carrier’s choice of which breeds to include on its list.”
It is currently illegal for insurance companies to use dog breed profiling in states including Michigan and Pennsylvania. It’s also illegal in Ohio, but owners of Pit Bulls and some other breeds must buy at least $100,000 of liability insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
The good news is that there is pending legislation in several states that would put an end to this blacklisting of breeds by insurance companies. In New York State, Assembly Bill A4075, which prohibits insurers from refusing to cover certain dog breeds, will hopefully be signed into law soon.
Breed-Friendly Insurance Companies
If you happen to have a dog whose breed has been declared “dangerous” by an insurance company, or if you’re disgusted after reading about this and want to change insurance providers, be aware that State Farm, the largest home insurance company in the country, doesn’t ban any breeds.
“State Farm does not ask what breed or type of dog a person owns when writing policies,” spokesperson Heather Paul, who happens to have two Pit Bulls, told Forbes. “Any dog, regardless of breed, can bite, and most bites are the perfect storm of situation and circumstance. People often put themselves and others at risk, and dogs are blamed. That’s why State Farm focuses on dog bite prevention education rather than breed restrictions.”
The following insurance companies also don’t discriminate against any breeds, according to BADRAP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to securing the future of Pit Bulls as cherished family companions. Just be aware that agents from independently run offices may have a different policy.
- Auto-Owners Insurance
- Chubb Group
- United Services Automobile Association (for veterans and families of veterans)