Owners of pit bulls, among others, say that they have experienced bias when they seek policies.
Ohio has had a regulation in place for about three years that has stated that the owners of all breeds of dog must be treated equally, but this has created a certain degree of controversy when it comes to homeowners insurance policies.
Some dog owners have said that the breed of their pets have placed a sizeable barrier in their way.
Among those challenges, homeowners insurance has been at the top of the list. It is a typical practice for insurers in Ohio to keep a list of specific dog breeds that they have labeled as being “high risk”, so that they should be considered in a different way from other types of pooch. A spokesperson from the Ohio Department of Insurance has explained that the state had “not issued guidance to the Ohio insurance industry concerning vicious dog breeds and insurance.”
As there are no specific regulations against this practice, homeowners insurance companies make their own rules.
The Ohio Insurance Institute’s senior vice president of public information, Mary Bonelli, explained that “Since there are no regulations in place pertaining to coverage for dogs or dog breeds, insurance companies can establish their own underwriting criteria and guidelines related to them.” She said that when it all comes down to it, insurers look at the details of the claims that are made relating to dog bites, and the amounts of the payouts that are associated with those claims.
Bonelli made reference to an Insurance Information Institute article that was published in May 2014, in which the I.I.I. estimated that across the country the year before, there had been 17,359 claims made with regards to dog bites. The average payout of those claims came to $27,359. “Dog bites account for one-third of all homeowner’s-insurance liability claims paid out in 2013, costing more than $483 million,” she said, adding that over half of them occur on the property of the animal’s owner.
When it comes to restrictions in coverage based on dog breed, the rules are different from one homeowners insurance company to the next. That said, pit bulls are among the dogs that will most frequently cause an application to be denied. Before the Ohio law changed in 2012, that was the only breed of dog that had been labeled as inherently vicious.