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Gianaris Bill Aims to Prevent Insurance Companies From Hiking Premiums Based On Dog Breeds

The bill would prohibit insurance providers from increasing rates or denying homeowners’ insurance depending on the type of dog they keep (Duncan Sanchez, Unsplash)

June 9, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

People who own pit bulls, Rottweilers and other dogs deemed aggressive often struggle to find homeowners’ insurance or face higher premiums.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris plans to change that and has sponsored legislation that would stop insurance companies from hiking rates or denying people homeowners’ insurance based on the type of dog they keep. His bill passed the senate Tuesday.

The lawmaker says that many insurance companies will not provide homeowners’ insurance to people who keep certain types of dogs—or raise their premiums— based on the claim that some breeds are dangerous and bite.

Gianaris, who represents western Queens, says that higher premiums add to the cost of home ownership, often forcing canine lovers to forgo owning or keeping such dogs.

“People should never be forced to choose between an affordable place to live and the pets who are members of their families,” Gianaris said in a statement yesterday. “This proposal would make it easier for New Yorkers to give good homes to even more animals in need.”

Gianaris said that there is no statistical connection between dog breeds and bite incidents, citing a white paper that states that dogs such as Great Danes are no more dangerous than corgis and chihuahuas.

Dog behavior, Gianaris said, is more a function of training than breeding.

The legislation would ban insurance providers from charging higher premiums, refusing to issue or renew insurance, or canceling policies based on the breed of dog a homeowner owns.

The bill is now before the Assembly Codes Committee.

According to the text of the bill, insurance providers can currently charge homeowners higher premiums even though their dog may not have ever caused an injury to a person.

“This erroneous practice has placed pet owners in an undeserved bind,” the bill reads.

The bill also states that insurance companies have avoided losses in the past because of the additional layer of security a dog provides in deterring home burglaries.

“It is unacceptable that now insurance companies would want the ability to deny coverage based on the exact same breed of dog that may have protected the homeowners and the insurance company from loss,” the bill states.

The animal advocacy group NYS Animal Protection Federation said that it is backing the legislation.

“Insurance companies routinely stand in the way by denying homeowners insurance or charging exorbitant premiums if you own a breed that the insurers consider aggressive—like pit bulls, German shepherds, Rottweilers or Great Danes,” said Libby Post, the executive director of NYSAPF.

“This discrimination is unfounded and based on sensationalized media coverage of dog bites,” Post said.

Post said that this approach by insurance companies forces homeowners with certain types of dogs to give up their pets, which ultimately sees many canines end up in animal shelters.

“Senator Gianaris’ bill … [would end] one of the most unfair injustices pet owners are subjected to by insurance companies,” Post said.

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9 Comments

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SuperWittySmitty

The claim that certain breeds are more likely to have violent tendencies is easy to quantify. Certain breeds have multiple generations of selective breeding to behave in certain ways, whether it’s to herd, fetch, guard, or even fight. You can’t train a border collie to behave like a poodle, and so forth. Here’s another politician who is ignoring the experts.

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Lucky number 7 train

I’m glad these politicians are working hard to pass legislation to help people get back on their feet and off the food lines after this pandemic. Anything but the hard stuff ain’t that right Mike?

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Poli

Pitbulls et al. get a bad rap because the media only shows Pitbull bites. The little dogs bite people WAAAAY more. Pitbulls bite waaaay less but are obviously more powerful thus more click bait. Pitbulls are like hyperactive kids so if you throw a kid in a bareknuckle boxing ring at a young age they’re going to be messedup mentally. Pitbulls are born good just like humans are. It’s their environment and influences that makes them who they are. Horrible to say but do you know what dog fighting handlers do to the dogs that simply don’t want to fight?? So sad for someone to think that these innocent dogs are just born bad.

Why doesnt Gianaris create a law that lowers the payment (taxes) if a politician falls short in funds? If a politician spends too much money and can’t blanace their own budget and do a terrible job they should step down and taxes halted for the amount it’s over… I name it the Gianari$ Bill.

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SuperWittySmitty

Pitbull-type dogs have a bad rap because there are tons of cases where someone was bitten by one of them. They keep track of this stuff and it’s your own fault if you ignore the experts and only listen to the media. Dog fight handlers know what they’re doing and they’re choosing pit bulls because they’re inherently talented when it comes to fighting.

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I could have sworn pit bulls were illegal in this city.

The only reason to have a pit bull here is because they’re an employee of yours.

And you aren’t selling any flowers if you know what I mean.

So basically, NO PIT BULLS!!!

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Whaaa?

Wow breedist must? Many people have pitbulls who’ve never seen a dog fighting ring for pets.

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My pet Komodo Dragon loves kids

Ever heard a news story about pomeranian tearing off somebody’s arm or mauling a toddler to death in its stroller?

Neither have I.

I see somebody walking a pitbull and I avoid them completely. It’s like somebody walking down the street with a loaded shotgun as far as I’m concerned.

Seriously, unless you are a drug dealer or own a junk yard, why do you want such a dangerous animal?

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And yet ferrets are illegal

Pit bulls are bred for aggression and violence. It’s in their DNA. It doesn’t matter how well the owner treats them, they can snap at any time and with their powerful, vice-like jaws, the carnage can be devastating.

Like Sigfried and Roy found out, all the taming in the world doesn’t change the nature of the beast. They eventually revert to form.

Insurance companies should be able to act accordingly.

I would outright ban the breed in the city.

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