NCOIL Passed a Model Law Preventing Breed-Based Insurance Restrictions

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Breed discrimination is not a new phenomenon – from the fact that certain dog breeds get euthanized in shelters more often to certain breeds being classified as “dangerous” without any regard for a dog’s individual history and behavior, there are plenty of examples of breed-based prejudice. Sadly, one of the cases where breed discrimination was more than easy to spot is insuring houses, or more specifically, property and liability insurance coverage for homeowners and renters. The issue lies in the insuring companies’ perceived risk of expensive liability claims – they deem certain breeds as more likely to bite or simply scary to people, which could earn them a spot on their blacklist. 

Needless to say, this caused a whole slew of issues for dog owners looking to buy or rent a property. They could legally be denied a mortgage simply because they couldn’t get insurance because of their pet’s breed – which is a prerequisite for getting a mortgage in the first place. Similarly, insuring houses could refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or simply charge an increased premium or rate for such policy based on a dog’s breed, in cases where the policy was obtained. To make matters worse, research and studies show that there's simply no proof that certain dog breeds are, by default, more aggressive than others, and that such things can be generalized. A study published in the respected journal Science by Kathleen Morrill, a dog geneticist at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, goes to prove that dog behaviors are not related to their genetic components – or, in other words, that a dog’s breed is not a relevant predictor of their behavior.

That’s why we were so glad to hear that The National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) just passed a model law prohibiting insurance companies from denying homeowners or renters insurance simply because of the breed of their pet. Currently, seven states have passed legislation, and hopes are that the rest will quickly follow suit. Having in mind that housing problems remain the number one reason why dogs are surrendered to the shelters and the fact that discrimination against dogs can be interpreted as discrimination against certain groups of dog owners, it’s only logical that it’s in every state’s best interest to pass similar legislation.

The initiative was led by the Best Friends Animal Society, a national organization working to end the killing of pets in shelters by 2025, which is well known for its humanitarian efforts and relentless advocacy for dogs who need it the most. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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