It's unfortunate for homeowners who love Rottweilers, pit bull terriers, Doberman pinschers and other so-called risky breeds, but it is reasonable for insurers to consider dog breeds in calculating home insurance rates.
State Rep. Brenda Kupchick of Fairfield has proposed a bill that would prohibit using a dog's breed as an underwriting factor for homeowner policies. Ms. Kupchick, the owner of (non-risky) beagles, says such a practice is "ridiculous."
How so? All insurance is based on risk. The basic question in writing a policy is: What's the likelihood that something is going to happen to cause a claim to be filed?
Among the many factors underwriters consider for homeowners insurance are whether the house is in a high-crime area, how far the nearest fire station is, and whether the house has a swimming pool or trampoline. Insurance companies also consider whether the homeowner owns a breed of dog with a reputation for being aggressive.
For insurers, the matter isn't trivial. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than a third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid in 2013 — $483 million worth, to be specific.
Ms. Kupchick says many of her constituents have complained that they are forced to pay higher rates or their policies have been canceled because of the breed of dog they own. But as the president of the Insurance Association of Connecticut points out, barring insurers from taking breeds into consideration doesn't eliminate the risk — it simply spreads it out: "All other policies are going to be subject to premium raises."
Maybe it's unfair to certain breeds of dog and their owners. But is it any more fair to make those who own gentle dogs, or don't own dogs at all, subsidize those who choose to have breeds that have been implicated in injuries?
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