New Law Ends Discrimination Related to Insurance Dog Breeds

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LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A new law just went into effect in Nevada that could save pet owners hundreds of dollars. It ends dog breed discrimination when it comes to your insurance rates.

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Las Vegas is the city of dog lovers. But we also have a major pet overpopulation problem, which is overwhelming shelters and shelters. Many people abandon their dog not because they don’t want it, but because they have no choice.

And some say the reason goes back to liability insurance.

“When we met and did our first, like, I don’t know, ‘getting to know each other,’ you could just tell she was…she was the sitter.”

Annette Merle adopted Neveah in December 2020.

“I lived in a house with a garden,” says Merle. “The owner was very kind and understanding towards the dog.”

But due to the pandemic, the house that Merle and Neveah called home has been sold.

“So I was looking for a new place that would accept a large-breed dog,” says Merle.

Not an easy task.

“I mean, with a large breed dog, aggressive or non-aggressive, you’re just going to have a hard time finding housing,” she explains. “Then when you add the aggressive context to that, it complicates a lot of things.”

Merle eventually found an owner willing to work with her but paid a high price. She had to purchase insurance specifically for Neveah, even though her dog had no history of wrongdoing. The cost? $589.20 per year.

“And that covered liability insurance,” says Merle. “If you know, God forbid, something happened with her, another dog, another human.”

But not everyone has $600 to spare.

Amy Clatterbuck is director of operations at Hearts Alive Village, an organization founded in 2011 to help save dogs and cats.

“It’s heartbreaking when people come in and have to give up their pet that they’ve had for eight years because their housing situation has changed and they can’t find any type of property, whether it’s a house for rent, an HOA that allows their breed — and they have to get rid of a family member to keep their kids in a house,” says Clatterbuck.

Most homeowners associations and property managers have a list of prohibited breeds due to the cost of liability insurance.

Clatterbuck says these breeds make up more than 80% of the dogs in Hearts Alive Village. Trying to help bring back pets, she too saw the struggle.

“We often get the same typical responses, ‘no pit bulls, no bull terriers, no Rottweilers, with German Shepherds,'” says Clatterbuck.

“On this discrimination list, there are quite a few animals that would surprise you, like schnauzers and Boston terriers that often appear on these lists as well. It’s not just your fat Rottweilers and bully mixes. “

The US SPCA argues that this really is discrimination, as insurance companies are supposed to have data proving that an individual dog is in fact at higher risk.

“But they haven’t been able to provide that and there’s loads of research…many, many organizations, governmental and non-governmental, that have said the exact opposite,” says Susan Riggs of the US SPCA. , “this race is not associated with a higher risk.”

Basing the risk on race means some insurance companies charge a higher premium or deny coverage altogether.

But they can’t do that in Nevada anymore. Senate Bill 103 took effect on January 1, 2022. It prohibits insurance companies from discriminating based on the breed of dog in a property.

We contacted the American Property Casualty Insurance Association who sent us the following statement:

“The insurance industry recognizes that many people are very attached to their dogs. However, the cost, frequency and severity of dog bites can be surprising. Dog bites can not only cause skin and soft tissue injuries, but in some cases they can lead to death or disfigurement. Every year, millions of people, often children, are bitten by dogs. The insurance industry is struggling to comply with the new Nevada law and wants to reduce the number of such bodily injuries. She also wants to be able to underwrite and assess risks correctly. So when there is an increased risk of loss, whether it is a poorly maintained wood stove, a leaky roof or an aggressive dog, they should be able to charge a rate adequate. As consumers face high inflation and rising costs, this new law is a significant concern for insurers due to the high medical bills and costly litigation that often follows serious injuries resulting from strokes. dogs – costs that unfortunately can be passed on to consumers. –Mark Sektnan, State Government Relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there have been between 14,000 and nearly 19,000 dog bite claims each year in the United States since 2003.

In 2020, the average cost of these claims was over $50,000.

But the ASPCA. says that risk should be determined on an individual dog’s history, not its breed.

Amy from the Hearts Alive Foundation says the new law is a step in the right direction and could help encourage more families to adopt. She adds that living in a condo or apartment doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t care for a bigger dog.

“We meet families who are amazing families,” Amy says. “They are hikers, football enthusiasts, outdoor enthusiasts. They would be perfect for one of these dogs. But then they realize their property management doesn’t allow this breed.”

Merle says her Neveah shouldn’t be judged on her race any more than a person can be judged on her race. She says the new law is a relief.

“I think it will help me save money. If it’s not money, then the anxiety and stress of trying to find a place in the future, if I don’t decide to stay here,

The ASPCA says it can sometimes be difficult for owners to determine if an insurance premium increase is related to your dog. So check with your insurer and contact the Nevada Department of Insurance if you don’t get a clear answer.

Nevada State Senator Melanie Scheible sponsored SB 103 and issued the following statement:

“The purpose of this legislation is to keep families together. In Nevada, we know that pets are family members and especially in the midst of a housing crisis, no one should have to choose between keeping a roof over of his head and an animal No reliable, peer-reviewed research has shown that dogs of a particular breed are more likely to cause injury than others, but some insurance companies charge higher premiums – or deny coverage entirely – to households of certain breeds. Premiuming someone based on their dog’s breed is fundamentally unfair.”

“When the ASPCA first suggested this legislation to me, I knew I wanted to sponsor the bill. With hundreds of animals waiting in shelters every day for a forever home, I think it worth breaking down all the barriers we can to get people to adopt Reliable research by the Canine Science Collaboratory has shown that people generally have trouble identifying dog breeds by sight. Intended individuals who have adopted a short-haired, square-headed dog can report to their insurance company that they own a Pit Bull and pay a higher premium, when their dog isn’t even a Pit Bull at all! was really struck by the injustice of penalizing someone who tries to be honest by disclosing the breed of his dog to his insurance company, when he could lie on the form and enjoy a rate of lower insurance.”

“I hope that with the passage of SB103, people who already have pit bulls, shepherds and other so-called ‘dangerous breeds’ will have more housing options available. ‘adopting a dog will no longer turn away pit bulls. , shepherds or any other dog because they are worried about being able to keep or find a home. I also hope the ongoing conversations on SB103 will help dispel the myths that have been perpetuated about certain breeds of dogs. I would love to see more people be open to adopting a Pit Bull or Rottweiler from the shelter, as these dogs are not no more likely to be dangerous than any other dog.”

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