ASPCA Commends NYS Lawmakers for Passing Bill to End Dog Breed Discrimination by Insurance Companies

If signed by Gov. Cuomo, this legislation would prohibit insurance companies from denying homeowners coverage simply because they own a specific breed of dog
June 11, 2021

NEW YORK – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends New York State lawmakers for passing legislation to prohibit insurance companies from utilizing the breed of a dog in determining homeowner insurance coverage. This legislation removes housing barriers for New York dog owners, and if signed into law, New York would join Nevada as the only two states that have enacted laws to prohibit this discriminatory practice.

The vast majority of property insurance providers currently deny or significantly increase homeowner coverage and renewals for households with certain breeds of dogs in their homes, yet there is no evidence to support this policy as insurance claim data does not validate the idea that certain breeds of dogs are a bigger risk as compared to non-restricted breeds.

“During a time of unprecedented housing challenges for New Yorkers, the cost and availability of insurance has become an even more onerous barrier to homeownership for families with pets,” said Bill Ketzer, Senior Director of State Legislation for the ASPCA, Eastern Division. “This legislation will prevent insurance companies from denying families coverage simply because they own a specific breed of dog and remove housing barriers for responsible New York dog owners. We are grateful to Senator Gianaris and Assemblymember Glick for championing this legislation, and we urge Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law to better protect pets and people across the state.”

In recent years, a growing number of state and local governments have taken action to prohibit regulation of dog ownership based on the breed – or appearance of breed – of the dog. These governments acknowledge the broad consensus that breed restrictions are an ineffective and inaccurate tool in preventing dog-related risks and instead rely on objective facts in determining if individual dogs pose public risks. Past behavior is a much a stronger indicator of current behavior than genetics, so this legislation specifically reserves insurers’ latitude to cancel, refuse to issue or renew, or to increase premiums for households in which a resident dog of any breed has a history of aggression.

During the 2021 session, state lawmakers also renewed the $5 million NYS Companion Animal Capital Fund as part of the 2022 state budget, prevented burdensome new requirements for veterinarians that would have diminished access to care, and prohibited the slaughter of racehorses while providing funding for aftercare of retired horses and requiring racehorses to be microchipped.  

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