A bill has been proposed in the Massachusetts legislature that would prohibit the refusal to issue, cancellation or the nonrenewal of a homeowners liability insurance policy or contract, or to charge or impose an increased premium or rate for such a policy or contract, based in whole or in part on the policyholder’s ownership of a certain breed of dog.
HB 918 proposed, by Representative Anne Gobi, is currently in the Joint Financial Services Committee, where a hearing was held on September 17, 2013. During the hearing, advocates and opponents presented their arguments for and against the bill. Animal welfare advocates and dog owners advised the committee that breed is a flawed means by which to determine the likelihood of a dog to bite, and because of discriminatory insurance company practices, responsible dog owners are forced to choose between their beloved pet and their home insurance. Insurance company representatives argued that the increase in dog bite claims and the costs associated with the same made it necessary for insurance companies to target specific breeds. (This argument is made despite the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite.)
HB918 protects responsible dog owners from being discriminated against and penalized unnecessarily while still allowing insurance companies to raise rates, refuse coverage and/or cancel policies if a dog belonging to a specific policy holder has been deemed dangerous based its actions and behaviors.
MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS: Please contact the members of the Joint Financial Services Committee, as well as the legislators for your district, and encourage them to pass this bill in order to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against dog owners, an action that creates undue hardship on responsible dog owners.
JOINT FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE
(Block copy & paste e-mail for committee members)
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