Yes, Your Insurance Company CAN Discriminate Against Your Dog. Here’s What You Can Do.

Pit bull kisses. ♥ Photo: Sara Nick

A Long Island woman made headlines recently when her homeowner’s insurance company denied her fire claim because they found out she owned a pit bull.

Her pitbull didn’t start the fire. So what’s the deal?

The woman’s insurance company is one of many that prohibit certain breeds, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Huskies, Akitas, and more. If you own a pup that your insurance company prohibits, ANY claim — even one that has nothing to do with your pet — can be denied.

And it doesn’t just affect the blatantly blocky-headed: the fine print of many prohibited-breed lists states “or any mix thereof.” An unsettling practice in this rescue-lovin’ community, where many of us aren’t 100% sure of our hound’s heritage.

dog insurance discrimination

Despite his clever disguise, a DNA test revealed this Oakdale pup to be part pit bull. Thank dog for all-breed insurance! Photo: Nicole Errante

This practice is legal, but we think it’s the pits! So we asked Beth DeLaForest of breed-friendly Aspire Insurance Group for an action strategy:

  • Put your money where your mutt is. The best way to tell insurance companies that you think their discriminatory policies are Rott-en? Spend your dough elsewhere. While breed discrimination is commonplace, there ARE insurance companies who welcome the business of bully owners.
  • Do your doo diligence. Even if your policy does not mention breed restrictions, the company’s underwriting guidelines might. (Ideally, the underwriting guidelines prevent people with restricted breeds from obtaining a policy in the first place, but this does not always happen — so you may have to dig a little deeper to make sure your family’s dog is covered.) And it’s the dog owner’s responsibility to fully disclose dogs, even if the agent doesn’t ask.
  • Ambassa-dogs matter. If you own a bully breed, go the extra mile to make sure they’re the best-behaved pup on the block. (Who’s a good dog owner? Res ru are!) “The more that insurance companies see breed-friendly policies as a good ‘risk,’ the likelier they are to drop their discriminatory practices,” Beth points out.
  • Adopt with awareness. Some rescues, like A Rotta Love Plus, require adoptive homes to have breed-friendly insurance, and can even help you switch if you find out that you don’t. “We work with fosters and adopters to help them make sure they have an insurance policy that protects their whole family,” explains Michelle Klatt, one of its directors.

“Breed-friendly insurance that values the human-canine bond — no matter what breed your family loves — is available,” Beth says. “We are striving to change the industry by showing companies how wonderful responsible owners are with these breeds.”

Because dogs are family. And it’s up to all of us to protect our own.

dog insurance discrimination

Pants are optional. Family is essential. Photo: Sara Nick

2 thoughts on “Yes, Your Insurance Company CAN Discriminate Against Your Dog. Here’s What You Can Do.

  1. Glenda LaHaye

    Years ago, when I had my Am Staff and still lived at home, my Mom’s insurance company tried to cancel her policy. I went to speak with them and asked why and their response was “Your mother told us you own a pit bull.” Me “No, I don’t. I own an American Staffordshire Terrier.” Agent “A pit bull.” Me “I challenge you to contact any veterinarian and ask them to identify a pit bull. Or to contact the AKC and ask them what one is. As a matter of fact have a look at this AKC poster of breeds I brought with me. Can you find the pit bull?” Agent couldn’t find one and looked perplexed. I said “There is no such breed as a pit bull. There are bully breeds and no covering their owners would include the owners of such dogs as the Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, Bull Terrier and the French Bulldog to name a few.” It helped that the agent owned a Frenchie. Mom kept her insurance.

    Reply
  2. Kate

    Wow! I had no idea that the insurance company could deny any type of insurance claim simply for owning a prohibited breed that is unrelated to the claim. Luckily, we did shop around for insurance based on whether they have prohibited breeds and selected one that doesn’t have such a discriminatory provision.

    Kate | rock-a-bully.com

    Reply

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