It is with some concern that we view a bill currently in the CT House and headed for a vote. This bill could cause the cost of Connecticut Renters Insurance to double, or perhaps even increase further. The bill would force you to pay for your neighbor’s dog, including dangerous dogs that are poorly trained or have previously caused grevious bodily harm to a child.
Currently, renters insurance companies in Connecticut can and may restrict coverage for dogs, based on breed and/or other criteria. That’s all about to change, and not for the better.
We’re dog people. We even have an official company dog. But poorly trained dogs of certain breeds create a significant change in the risk taken on by a renters insurance provider. If you insure certain breeds of dog in Connecticut currently, you’ll either have to get an endorsement that charges for the risk or get a separate dog liability policy. What would this bill do?
No insurer that delivers, issues for delivery, renews, amends or endorses a homeowners or tenants insurance policy in this state on or after October 1, 2015,
Well, that covers just about every type of policy in the state. Now that we know this will apply to you whether or not you have a dog (since it applies to the insurers overall, and they’ll have to price policies accordingly)…
shall establish rates or minimum premiums for such policy or cancel, refuse to renew or refuse to issue such policy on the basis of the breed of dog owned by the insured or the applicant,
Basically, no insurer may take any action on any individual policy because of a dog. They spell it out a bit further, but that’s the nutshell of it.
with respect to (1) any dog that is (A) an active or retired member of a volunteer canine search and rescue team, as defined in section 5-249 of the general statutes, or (B) a guide dog trained or being trained to assist blind, deaf or mobility impaired persons, or
We’re OK with this part – trained search and rescue dogs and guide dogs are generally well trained and well behaved. That comes with the territory, and it also generally comes with proof. You can’t kick a blind person’s guide dog out of a restaurant in most cases, there’s no reason they should cost more to insure. That makes perfect sense. But here’s the problem:
(2) any dog that is not described in subdivision (1) of this section unless additional criteria other than breed is used with respect to the dog that is covered by this subdivision.
Any dog not described above… That sounds suspiciously like every dog ever, unless “additional criteria” other than breed is used.
In other words, you can still underwrite and price based on the presence of a high-risk animal, but you can only do so after the dog has already caused an injury. This bill is instructing insurance companies to rate and underwrite as if they know for certain that no dog on any policy will ever injure someone, and that the only time they can charge the appropriate premium or refuse to write or renew a Connecticut Renters Insurance policy is after a loss has occurred. A fine case of closing the barn door after the horses are already out of it, and Connecticut insurers aren’t in the business of losing their policyholders’ money by paying claims on policies that never should have been written because of the risk.
There’s one, and only one, solution to this problem if this bill passes. Connecticut Renters Insurance premiums will increase significantly, possibly even doubling. The risk pool of which you’re a part just became far more riskier, with far more expensive claims. The only way to plan for that is to charge more. A few bad dog owners who can’t be bothered to properly train their animals are directly responsible for the coming increase in Connecticut Renters Insurance costs. Before this bill, those who didn’t believe in training their large dogs properly could be forced to buy a separate policy for animal liability, with pricing that contemplated the amount of risk involved. No more.
As letter to the editor in the Norwich Bulletin put it, “Those who choose not to own [certain] dog breeds should not be forced to subsidize those who do.”
Dogs are great animals, and great pets. But they come with a need for responsibility, as well as a cost, and that cost should be borne by those who choose to own them. From an insurance standpoint, this bill is the equivalent of raising school taxes in New Haven to pay for a new school building in Bridgeport – Unfair and completely illogical.