The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is proud to be part of a new initiative to end breed discrimination in the homeowners insurance industry. Along with major animal welfare groups including Best Friends, HSUS, Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Humane Rescue Alliance, we have signed on to a new white paper calling for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to investigate the use of breed discrimination lists. As there is a lack of data to support this discrimination, we are also asking them to issue a call for national and state-specific data on the risks associated with listed breeds. Read on for a high-level look at the key points in the white paper, as well as actions you can take to support this important initiative.
Why This Is Important Now
We know that the vast majority of insurance carriers use dog breed as a factor in determining coverage. This is especially relevant now, in light of increased dog adoption and fostering. It is even more important in light of the urgent work we must do as a field–and a nation–to dismantle systemic racism. Are there particular groups of homeowners that dog breed lists discriminate against?
Some Key Points
- The white paper shows there is no scientific evidence or actuarially supported data to prove certain breeds are inherently more inclined to bite than others.
- The white paper cites research indicating that the use of breed lists has a detrimental impact on three groups: uninformed consumers, people of color, and consumers of low or moderate means.
- There is a long history of race-based discrimination in the insurance industry as a whole. (For example, Black policyholders of life insurance received policies valued at 2/3 that of white policyholders, yet were charged 30%-40% more.)
- In regard to breed aggression, the industry relies on CDC research on dog bites that is outdated and unreliable; the CDC itself questions the usefulness of its own study.
- As of November 2020, at least 22 states ban the use of BSL in some fashion.
- The paper also includes testimony and arguments from veterinary associations, lawyers, animal welfare organizations and dog-specific groups.
What You Can Do
Read the white paper on Breed Discrimination in the Homeowners Insurance Industry (.pdf) and share it with staff, especially those who interact with community members who may be or have been impacted by breed discrimination policies.
Best Friends’ Sr. Legislative Attorney, Ledy VanKavage, Esq., reports that bills to prevent breed discrimination by insurance companies are being introduced in Illinois and Nevada (one has already been introduced in New York), and urges state residents to support this legislation and ask their communities to do the same. Check Best Friends’ Animal Advocacy pages for information about how to stay informed and take action.
Do you know dog owners who have been denied insurance because of a dog’s breed? Urge them to contact their State Insurance Commissioner. Assist in any way you can with talking points from the white paper; you can find contact info for all state commissioners on NAIC’s interactive map.