BOSTON – State law in Massachusetts bans municipalities from casual breed-based dog ordinances and now assembly are audition a advance to ban insurers from abnegation to affair a policy, abandoning a action or charging an added exceptional based aloft a homeowner’s buying of any specific brand of dog.
Framingham Rep. Jack Lewis told the Banking Services Committee Tuesday that dogs can be beheld actual abnormally by insurers versus, for instance, the American Kennel Club. Assertive breeds, he said, accept accustomed “bad raps” that are not based on their behavior.
“The accepted law is based on apocryphal compassionate of dog breeds,” Lewis said.
But dog bites are the “single better account of accident for us,” causing concrete and banking abuse that “is tremendous,” said Frank O’Brien, testifying for the Acreage and Casualty Insurers Association of America, whose associates address about bisected of the homeowner’s allowance behavior in Massachusetts.
“There is no distinct bigger accident to the allowance industry than the attendance of a dog,” said O’Brien, who said he’s a above dog buyer (Molly) and his ancestors is prodding him to become one again. The allowance accumulation opposes the bill.
Testifying for the bill, associates of a Massachusetts Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) console told assembly that dog owners who do not acknowledge their buying may face banking liabilities, while those who do may be unfairly answerable based on brand lists.
More assembly are signing on as supporters of the bill (H 544/S 533), said Kara Holmquist of the MSPCA, who said insurance-related questions are the top affair amid callers to her organization. “We’re seeing added absorption in this issue,” she said.
Dog owners charge be amenable for the training and behavior of their dogs, but dogs should for allowance purposes be advised based on their behavior rather than what they attending like, said Jennifer Clark, testifying on account of the American Kennel Club, which promotes amenable dog ownership.
Rep. Chris Walsh of Framingham said brand is not the alone agency in assessing whether dogs are dangerous. “So abundant of what a dog is is a accord with an buyer and a family,” Walsh said.
Supporters of the bill additionally said the absolute situation, and growing lists of breeds maintained by insurers, is banishment homeowners to accord up their pets, putting added burdens on beastly abundance agencies.
Under the bill, if any alone dog has been appointed as a alarming dog beneath accepted law, the legislation would not prohibit an insurer from abnegation to affair or renew or from abandoning any such acquaintance or policy, nor from arty an added exceptional or amount for such a action or contract.
O’Brien said insurers address behavior based on dog chaw abstracts and claims experiences. Some insurers debris to awning assertive dogs, he said, while others will appointment a acreage and see immediate if a dog has alarming tendencies afore chief whether to awning the pet.
“When it comes to risks of all types we assert our accident assay based aloft ample amounts of abstracts that adumbrate whether or not an accident is activity to booty place,” O’Brien said. “We amount acordingly.”
He added, “Any dog can bite. Any dog can account an allowance affirmation and sometimes those claims can be appealing significant, appealing horrific.”
During a breach from the hearing, O’Brien said there’s no distinct industry-wide account of breeds of affair to insurers and alleged dog bites an “epidemic.” He said insurers accept detected an access in the cardinal of dogs “known for their aggressiveness.”
Asked to brainstorm how accustomed it is for homeowners to abort to acknowledge dog buying to insurers, O’Brien said insurers await on homeowners advice appearance of their home in their allowance applications, including dog buying or the actuality on their acreage of a pond pool, trampoline, or a copse stove.
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