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.