Category Archives: Insurance

New Jersey S 1310 would end breed discrimination by insurance companies

A bill has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature that would end discriminatory practices by insurance companies in New Jersey.

S 1310 has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

There are several different aspects to this bill.

First, it states that, “An insurer shall not (1) refuse to issue, (2) cancel, or (3) non-renew a homeowners insurance policy solely on the basis of a dog harbored upon the insured property.”

Secondly, the bill does allow insurance companies to not cover the dog specifically in the policy.    “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, an insurer may offer or issue a homeowners insurance policy which contains an exclusion against covering any liability for a dog harbored upon the insured property.”  This means that people will be able to get coverage for their property, but may have to sign an exclusion for liabilities concerning the dog.

The last part of the bill states that companies are allowed to charge different rates for different dogs.  “...nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an insurer’s use of underwriting guidelines, risk classifications, or other rules of any rating-system, as defined by section 1 of P.L.1944, c.27 (C.17:29A-1), which establish rates and premiums for that coverage on the basis of a dog harbored upon the insured property.”

These bills, traditionally, have been very difficult to pass because of the money and power that is behind the insurance lobby.  Insurance discrimination is an incredibly important issue, however.  It does not just effect home owners, but also effects renters.  Many landlords have policies against certain breeds and types of dogs because they cannot get coverage under their insurance policies to protect them, as the owner of the property.  This bill will not alleviate the problem completely, but it does provide a base line that will begin to address these issues.

Since this particular bill is so light on prohibitions on what an insurance company can do, the traditional backlash may be somewhat lessened.

New Jersey residents should reach out to support this bill.

You can contact your legislators via the states website.

Best Friends Animal Society has also set up a form, if you are having trouble with what to say.

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New York bill to prohibit insurance discrimination ordered to third reading

Last year a bill was introduced in the New York state legislature that would address breed discrimination in insurance practices.

The bill, A3952, would prohibit insurance companies that conduct business in New York state from canceling or refusing to issue a policy based solely on the breed of the clients dogs.  The bill died in the Senate during the 2013 session because the session ended.

Not only would this bill prevent companies from refusing to issue or canceling coverage, this bill would also prevent differential pricing based on the breed of dog of the insured.

The direct language of the bill states that,

NO INSURER SHALL REFUSE TO ISSUE OR
    6  RENEW, CANCEL, OR CHARGE OR IMPOSE AN INCREASED PREMIUM OR RATE FOR SUCH
    7  POLICY OR CONTRACT BASED SOLELY UPON HARBORING OR OWNING ANY  DOG  OF  A
    8  SPECIFIC BREED OR MIXTURE OF BREEDS.

The bill does not prevent insurers from canceling or refusing coverage to dogs who have been declared dangerous or have a bite history or history of aggressive behavior specific to that dog.

On January 8th the bill was reintroduced to the New York legislature.   The Senate returned the bill to assembly.    The bill was then ordered to its third reading.

A3952 is on the calendar for  Wednesday, January 22nd 2014.

This bill would help so many people in the community.

It would help renters by eliminating discriminatory policies for those who own property, making it easier for landlords who would be open to renting to some one with a targeted dog to do so.  This increases housing options and as a result, owner retention in situations where people have to move.

They also help to compensate victims of dog bites by increasing the pool of covered owners.

They also help a lot of dog owners.  Insurance companies can restrict any breed of dog they wish.  There are currently quite a few breeds and mixes that cannot get coverage.  This is NOT just a “pit bull” issue.  It effects the owners of German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Rottweilers, Akita, Husky, Malamute, every dog that is on one insurance list or another.

NEW YORK RESIDENTS:  Please reach out now and tell your legislators that you support this bill.

You can find you Assembly members on the states website here.

Because of the powerful opposition to any form of insurance regulations, it is incredibly important that legislators constituents reach out to support such measures.

New York A3952 to end discriminatory practises in insurance advances

UPDATE:  Unfortunately the New York legislative session has ended without any further action on this bill.  Hopefully with the advancement this bill saw at the end of this session, a similar bill will be brought forward in the near future.

Earlier this year a bill was introduced in the New York state legislature that would prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage or renewal of a policy based on the breed or type of dog the applicant has.  Additionally this bill would also prohibit an insurance company from charging a different rate to a person because of the type of dog they own.

The bill text:

S 3421. HOMEOWNERS’ LIABILITY INSURANCE; DOGS. 1. WITH RESPECT TO HOMEOWNERS’ INSURANCE POLICIES AS DEFINED IN SECTION TWO THOUSAND  THREE HUNDRED  FIFTY-ONE  OF THIS CHAPTER, NO INSURER SHALL REFUSE TO ISSUE OR RENEW, CANCEL, OR CHARGE OR IMPOSE AN INCREASED PREMIUM OR RATE FOR SUCH POLICY OR CONTRACT BASED SOLELY UPON HARBORING OR OWNING ANY DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED OR MIXTURE OF BREEDS.
2. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL NOT PROHIBIT AN INSURER FROM REFUSING TO ISSUE OR RENEW OR FROM CANCELING ANY SUCH CONTRACT OR POLICY, NOR FROM IMPOSING A REASONABLY INCREASED PREMIUM OR RATE FOR SUCH A POLICY OR CONTRACT BASED UPON THE DESIGNATION OF A DOG OF ANY BREED OR MIXTURE OF BREEDS AS A DANGEROUS DOG PURSUANT TO SECTION ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE OF THE AGRICULTURE AND MARKETS LAW, BASED ON  SOUND UNDERWRITING  AND ACTUARIAL PRINCIPLES REASONABLY RELATED TO ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED LOSS EXPERIENCE SUBJECT TO THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS  OF  SECTION THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE OF THIS ARTICLE.

After a rather long period on inactivity this bill is moving forward.  The bill has passed the full Assembly and has moved on to the Senate side of the legislature.

Bills of this kind can be very difficult to pass because of the prevalence of the insurance lobby in the legislature. There is often staunch opposition to them.  The fact that the bill made it this far with the amount of votes it received is promising.  The bill passed Assembly with a comfortable majority of 105-34.

However, it is incredibly important the New York residents step up and make their voice heard.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Insurance Committee.  Please reach out and ask them to pass this bill to allow all residents of the state to be able to get insurance.  This bill not only helps dog owners but also helps victims of dog bites, insuring that they receive some kind of compensation for an incident the requires medical care.

Contact information for the committee members:
Senator James Seward: seward@nysenate.gov
Senator Neil Breslin: breslin@senate.state.ny.us
Senator David Carlucci: carlucci@nysenate.gov
Senator Adriano Espailla: espailla@nysenate.gov
Senator John Flanagan: flanagan@nysenate.gov
Senator Martin Golden: golden@nysenate.gov
Senator Mark Grisanti: grisanti@nysenate.gov
Senator Timothy Kennedy: kennedy@nysenate.gov
Senator Andrew Lanza: lanza@senate.state.ny.us
Senator William Larkin: larkin@senate.state.ny.us
Senator Kenneth LaValle: lavalle@nysenate.gov
Senator Jack Martins: martins@nysenate.gov
Senator Ted O’Brein: obrien@nysenate.gov
Senator Thomas O’Mara: omara@nysenate.gov
Senator Kevin Parker: parker@senate.state.ny.us
Senator Jose Peralta: jperalta@nysenate.gov
Senator James Seward: seward@nysenate.gov
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky: stavisky@senate.state.ny.us
Senator David Valesky: valesky@nysenate.gov
Senator Catharine Young: cyoung@senate.state.ny.us

Maryland bill to address breed discrimination by insurance tabled

A little while ago we issued an alert for a bill that was introduced in Maryland to prevent breed discrimination by insurance companies.

As a result of the hearings on this bill the committee has decide to table the bill to wait and see what is any effects the court of appeals ruling of Tracey v. Solesky will have on dog owners in the insurance market.

Tabling a bill is not uncommon, and is usually done as a measure to gather more information so the bill does not have to be refiled and start over from the beginning.

While this is not necessarily the best outcome it is not the worst either.  Legislators have shown a willingness to keep the matter open for discussion.

New York introduces a bill to prevent insurance discrimination

A bill has been introduced in the New York senate to prevent insurance companies from refusing coverage based on the breed of the persons dog.

SB 2568  “Prohibits insurers issuing policies insuring personal injury and property damage arising out of home ownership or lease, from cancelling or refusing to issue or renew such a policy, or charging increased premiums based upon the harboring of a specific breed of dog on the premises; provides that such provisions shall not apply if the dog harbored has been designated as a dangerous dog pursuant to section 123 of the agriculture and markets law.

Under this bill only a person who’s dog has a designation of dangerous or a history of aggressive behavior could be excluded from coverage.

New York State residents: Reach out to your legislators and ask them to support SB 2568.

Best Friends Animal Society has created a simple form to show support for this bill.  This form can be found here.

If you would like to reach out personally to your legislators the New York state official website has an equally simple contact form that can be found  here.

Archbold OH – Pit Bull Law Will Continue To Be Enforced, Says Village Council

While the State of Ohio may have removed breed specific language in its vicious dog law, Archbold’s own ordinance retains rules about pit bulls.  The Archbold ordinance does not ban the possession of pit bulls in the village outright, but it does require owners to purchase a liability insurance policy on the animals, and restricts how and where the animals may be kept.

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Woonsocket, RI – Officials Table Pit Bull Discussions

council plans to study pit bull issue

Woonsocket officials tabled proposed legislation on pit bull dogs noting that they wish to work more closely with pet owners in effort to create a solution that balances the interests of responsible pet owners and the need to protect the public from vicious dogs.

“The idea is to be a little more comprehensive about the problem rather than slapping together an ordinance we might have trouble enforcing,” Said City Council President John Ward.  Ward had proposed an ordinance similar to Pawtucket’s breed-specific ordinance, banning any new pit bulls from being licensed and forcing existing pit bull owners to obtain $100,000 worth of liability insurance.

If you are in the Woonsocket area, please make contact with your officials in effort to work with them in developing a breed-neutral Dangerous Dog ordinance.  You can reference our model ordinance if Council is open to suggestions for enforceable, effective community safety guidelines.

If you are not a Woonsocket resident, please continue to provide local officials with alternatives, facts, and statistics that support breed-neutral legislation by emailing them at the contact information provided below the original alert.

_______________________________________________________

MEETING REMINDER:

Council will discuss proposed breed specific legislation this evening at City Hall in the Harris Hall building at 7:00 PM.  Please plan to attend if in or near the area.  Email contact is below is you haven’t sent your correspondence yet.

In an attempt to curb the city’s population of pit bulls and other “fierce, dangerous or vicious” dogs, City Council President John F. Ward has proposed an ordinance that will prohibit any new pit bulls in the city after the ordinance is passed.

Existing pit bulls would be permitted to register prior to passing the ordinance, allowing them to remain within the city limits, but owners would have to obtain $100,000 liability policy as well as meet additional requirements to legally own the dogs.

This knee-jerk reaction comes at the heels of an incident last month that involved an alleged pit bull in which three people were injured with bite wounds.

According to Council President Ward, the police department has requested repeatedly that Woonsocket officials enact breed specific legislation because ‘we have pit bulls all over the city’.  Ward says “They think it would make it safer.”

In addition to the registration requirement and liability insurance, the new ordinance would require mandatory spay/neutering of ‘pit bulls’, “escape-proof” containment on the owners property, and muzzled and leashed or in a temporary enclosure when off the owners property.  

The proposed ordinance is structured on the near-by Pawtucket ordinance that was passed several years ago.  Ward states that while the matter is on the agenda for the Council’s Monday night meeting, it will likely be tabled for sometime in effort to provide council members time to discuss the proposal, gather feedback from police, pet owners and Animal Control Officer Doris Kay, as well as invite Pawtucket Animal Control Officer John Holmes to talk with council about how the law is working in his city.

“Pit Bull” is defined as American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog of mixed breed displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds.”

To send your POLITE, PROFESSIONAL and INFORMATIVE correspondence to Woonsocket Officials:
Woonsocket Council Agenda

John F. Ward, CPA
President
jfwardcpa@gmail.com
Daniel M. Gendron
Vice President
Dangendron1@verizon.net
Roger Jalette (401) 597-5790
Christopher Beauchamp chrisbeauchamp@nicori.com
Robert Moreau rmoreau462@gmail.com
Albert Brien albertgbrien@yahoo.com
Marc Dubois mdubois6@cox.net

To contact the “City of Woonsocket”              webmaster@woonsocketri.org
Animal Control Officer Doris Kay                     dkay@woonsocketri.org
or phone:                                                                      (401) 766-6571

NOTE:  The City’s Animal Shelter webpage notes…Donations for money, cat litter, dog and cat toys, blankets, towels, cleaning supplies, leashes, etc. are needed.  ALSO – Encourage legislators to vote in favor of the animals and educate friends and neighbors – be an animal advocate, advocate responsible ownership including spaying and neutering.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for October 15th, 2012 at 7:00 PM at Harris Hall.  Council meetings are held every other Monday at 7:00.