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Money Talks: Do You Support Companies That Discriminate?

I just broke up with my auto insurance carrier.

For years (long before I had dogs), I’ve been a happy Progressive customer – good rates, good customer service, no complaints. Until this year when I bought a house. Because we have a dog that is a pit bull , we planned in advance to get our home owners insurance through State Farm because they have a great reputation within the pit bull community.

When I contacted State Farm for a quote, I told them what kind of dogs we have. They didn’t care. All they wanted to know was if they had a bite history. Our dogs don’t, so we had no problems.

Boogie has a history of moping. State Farm didn't mind.

Boogie has a history of moping. State Farm didn’t mind.

Then, when it came time to renew my auto insurance, it got me thinking: I’d like to bundle my home and auto insurance. Does Progressive offer home owners insurance and, if so, would they insure my dogs, regardless of their breed?  I asked Progressive for a home insurance quote and found out that they do insure pit bulls, but only if I’m willing to pay a hefty “dangerous dog breed” fee.  Uh, no thanks.

Now, I appreciate that Progressive at least offers the possibility of home insurance for families with pit bulls (and other “dangerous dogs” like, Dobermans, Rotties, Chows, etc.), because there are many companies that flat-out do not. Many families are forced to give up their pets because they cannot find insurance that covers certain breeds or mixed breed dogs. So, in areas where there are no other options, at least Progressive offers families (the ones who are able to pay a few hundred extra bucks) an option.

But still. It’s a discriminatory fee. It punishes many dog-owning families, particularly lower-income ones who cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars extra each year, just because of how their dog looks. No fair.

Luckily, I do have options that don’t penalize me for choosing to love a little Boogie. And so, despite the fact that State Farm’s auto insurance cost a little bit more than Progressive’s policy, I dumped Progressive and bundled up over at State Farm. I could have kept Progressive as my auto insurance and State Farm as my home owners insurance.  I could have kept seeing both companies, juggling my affairs with two different agents, but I’m just not that kind of gal. I want a committed relationship where my agent accepts me for who I really am: a dog lover. An all-dogs lover.

State Farm at an Indy Pit Crew Event

State Farm at an Indy Pit Crew Event: http://www.indypitcrew.org

I’d rather give ALL my money to a company that chooses not to discriminate. Money talks.

Of course, Progressive wanted to know why I left, so here’s what I wrote them:

“I left Progressive for only one reason: while shopping for home owners insurance, I discovered that your company considers my dog to be a “dangerous breed” and would charge me an additional fee in order to cover him. My dog is not dangerous and doesn’t have a bite history. Therefore, I took all of my business to State Farm, which does not discriminate against dogs based on how they look or their breed. Instead, they are only concerned with actual behavior and treat every dog as an individual. I was very happy with Progressive and would have loved to continue giving you my business – both auto and home – but I cannot patronize businesses with discriminatory practices, fees, or penalties. If you ever change policies and evaluate dogs based on their behavior, not their looks, I’d be happy to return.”

I haven’t heard back, but I’m not waiting by the phone at night. Breakups, right?

What about you? Does your insurance company discriminate? There are so many dogs affected by insurance discrimination: Chows, GSDs, Rotties, Dobermans, Akitas, Mastiffs, Great Danes, Boxers, Huskies, and many more. Are you giving your hard-earned bucks to an insurance company that discriminates against dogs based on what they look like? As a dog lover, how do you feel about supporting a company that would deny a certified therapy dog coverage because they’re a Rottweiler or an Akita? Or one that makes assumptions about my dog’s behavior just because of how he looks?

As dog lovers, we have to stick together. It’s the only way we can influence profit-driven businesses to stop discriminating against dogs based solely on how they look. To be honest, we also have to stick together to fight Breed Discriminatory Legislation in our local governments (how can we expect businesses not to discriminate, when certain governments are doing so?), but letting your wallets talk in the private sector is a step we can all take too. There really is no excuse for businesses not to treat all dogs fairly. State Farm is doing well financially, so insuring all these families with “dangerous dogs” isn’t ruining them. Why can’t other companies follow in their fair, profitable footsteps?

Please know that insurance is no small thing for many dog lovers. Housing is a major issue for lots of families. There are people who can’t find home owner’s insurance and have to give up their beloved family dogs. There are landlords that want to rent to all dogs, but their insurance companies don’t allow them to be fair. There are SO MANY renters that can’t find housing because of this issue and many wind up giving up their dogs.Those dogs don’t always survive being surrendered to a shelter. And, even if they did, is that really the best use of our animal shelters? As a refugee camp for dogs who are loved, wanted, and well cared for, but weren’t insurable just because of how they look?  Uh, a million times no.

So, I’m asking you, my fellow dog lovers: if your auto policy or any other insurance policy is up for renewal soon, would you consider taking your business to an insurance company that does not discriminate? Will you put your money where your heart is and stand with me and Boogie? I know it’s a pain in the tush to switch. It took me way longer than I care to admit to stop being lazy and do the right thing for my own family. But maybe, like me, you’ll one day feel compelled to deal with the temporary inconvenience of switching so that you can align your spending with your ethics.

And if you’re looking, you do have options. Here are some companies (it may vary from state to state) that are helping families stay together: State Farm, Farmers (see update below), USAA, and Travelers are a few.  There’s even this company with a pit bull on their website and a list from Bad Rap with options nationwide.

Why not get a quote from one of these and then reward them for treating all dogs and families fairly by giving them your business?

You’d be Boogie’s hero.

 

Update 2/12/13: Farmers has changed their policy regarding pit bulls, Rottweilers, and wolf-hybrid dogs. More on that here.  As of this date, the change is only in CA, however all families with Farmers insurance would be smart to look for an alternative to Farmers home owners insurance now. Additionally  I reached out to State Farm and today they confirmed that they are not following Farmers lead and will continue not to discriminate against dogs based on breed. 

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55 Comments Post a comment
  1. Angie Huser #

    I work for State Farm Insurance (in an agent’s office) and am the proud owner of a “pit bull type” dog. Kayla is a APBT/Whippet mix and is also a registered therapy dog. I am blessed to have already been working for State Farm and have my insurance through State Farm when my husband and I adopted Kayla. I have talked to many people in the pet provided therapy dog organization that we are a part of (who also doesn’t discriminate against breeds like others do) and have discussed how “kind” State Farm is about dogs. Do not get me wrong, there are SF agents out there who have their own personal bias against the so-called “dangerous dogs” and choose to not insure people who own up to having them. However, State Farm Insurance, as a company, does not discriminate.

    Many companies will insure you and your “dangerous dog” if you are willing to accept higher personal liability coverage, and that is usually $1M or more. Personally, I would suggest ANYONE to do that, no matter whether you are single and have a goldfish, have a ton of kids, a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, or a “dangerous dog”. It is just a wise thing to do when we are living in a sue-happy world. I chose to increase my personal liability coverage to $1M (cost me $7 a year more) just to have that extra backing behind me if one of my dogs (I also have a Great Dane/Greyhound mix, a registered therapy dog) licked someone wrong, or accidentally scratched them with a blunt nail. I feel comfortable knowing that A.) I have a fabulous insurance company who will take care of me, and B.) that I probably have enough coverage to take care of anything that I could be sued for.

    I have also considered a Personal Liability Umbrella policy that extends even more over all your liability coverage (auto and homeowners/renters/condo). Why not? In this day and age, we really cannot be too careful when it comes to protecting ourselves and our assets from all the crazies out there that want to sue, all the dirty lawyers who will take the case, and the corrupt judges who will find in favor AGAINST you.

    No matter what size dog, cat, bird, snake, child, etc. that you may have, it is better to be safe than sorry. Take a look at your policy and see what your liability limit is and ask what it would cost to increase it for piece of mind.

    January 14, 2013
    • Great advice Angie! I did raise my personal liability for the reasons you mentioned, but not this high. I’ll revisit and update my coverage – thanks to you!

      January 14, 2013
  2. Jacky #

    This is exactly why i left progressive…well sort of. I called them when i had their auto insurance and because i was doing some research on buying a house in the next couple of years, i thought bundling would be the best option. They told me they didn’t cover my dog breed and on that same day i cancelled my auto insurance and joined allstate. Now I know they may have some restrictions, but i feel like paying a little more when the time comes is better than a no. My auto insurance went down considerably also by using Allstate. When the time does come and i need home insurance and State Farm is the better option, I will definitely go with them.

    January 14, 2013
  3. Having been rear-ended by someone with Progressive (totally their fault), I suspect that if you ever need help from your insurance company, you will come out far ahead with State Farm. Progressive nickle-dimed us and then finally agreed to one amount over the phone. Sure enough, the check was for far less. Had to use the L-word (lawyer) and suddenly the check was correct.

    January 14, 2013
  4. barksNpurrs #

    We have State Farm…..have had them for eons…..my parents used them & we continued w/them…..the agents & office staff, over the years, have been very supportive, understanding & quick to respond, especially when you need them for a situation…..PLUS they do not discriminate about animals, especially dogs & breed specific dogs, so we will stay w/them forever, as long as the dog breed issue doesn’t change w/them.
    Overall, yes, money talks……we will NOT do any business or use any service(s) w/any company that has prejudice or any negative animal-related policies or issues. These days, there are so many companies to choose from you almost always have alternative options. So we MUST stick together & ONLY use animal-friendly companies, etc…..businesses & companies need to get the message of how we feel & how important animals are to us.

    January 14, 2013
  5. LizGlob #

    When we were looking into buying a house, that’s the first thing we checked. We had State Farm already, and when we saw they didn’t care what my dog looked like, we jumped in. It makes me want to do more research on other businesses and companies that discriminate against breeds.

    January 14, 2013
  6. Mary #

    Years ago when Nationwide first came out with their new rules for dangerous dogs, we received their letter that to keep our coverage, we would have to sign that the dogs are not covered under liability. Of course, we all know that is not safe to do. I was angry, really angry, my Dobermans had never even threatened anyone. So I switched my home insurance to Erie, then I switched my car insurance, and my husband’s life insurance. I moved the motorcycle insurance and the RV insurance as well. And I told them why. They lost a fairly big account. Then a few years later they sent me a letter asking me to come back, as long as my dogs have a CGC they will cover them. I was not very nice in my reply. Take your business to those that deserve it!

    January 14, 2013
    • Lisa Alger #

      GOOD FOR YOU!!!

      January 19, 2013
  7. Tegan #

    In Australia, we don’t seem to have these discriminatory practices in insurance. However, recently an airline (Qantas) in Australia decided to stop flying American Staffordshire Terriers, resulting in a lot of public backlash.

    January 15, 2013
  8. Martine #

    Hingham Mutual Fire Ins Co was going to cancel my home insurance because of my 15 1/2 year old Rottie/Chow mix, he had his CGC and never bit anybody.

    January 15, 2013
  9. SL #

    Unfortunately State Farm doesn’t offer coverage in my area. And even when I went to get quotes from agents who others had told me have no breed discrimination I found out that wasn’t the case at all. I went with an agent who herself has “dangerous breeds.” Just waiting for State Farm to show up in Massachusetts!

    January 15, 2013
  10. I too am an insurance agent and Angie’s reply is very good. If you have a dog you should have higher liability limits and have a $1 million dollar umbrella policy. I have a 135lb akita and the company I work for does not allow me to have my homeowner policy with them. Yes, I was upset at first but I have come to realize that it is not discriminatory, it is a business decision. There are a number of companies that take all breeds however they probably charge more for the increased risk. You may argue that “my dog doesn’t bite” but that is not a gurantee that it won’t. If my neighbor and I have the same company and my dog has a bite that results in a lawsuit and the plaintiffs win is it fair that the neighbors rates increase to help pay for the loss that I/my dog caused? Also, while every one of the readers of this blog are more than likely responsible pet owners and take the necessary precautions to prevent problems there are ten irresponsible dog owners with home insurance that cause the problems that we hate to see. A case in point, right before the first of the year a coworker was walking her dog when a couple of pits attacked her and caused extensive damage to her face and arms. She was rushed to the hospital and will undergo months of surgeries and rehabilitation. She will have scars for the rest of her life. Now, I would bet that the owners a. does not have enough insurance to cover the costs and b. obviously was not responsible enough to manage the pack to prevent the attack. Bottom line is this: I budget for paying extra for insurance and other care items for my dog. To me that is part of being a responsible pet owner. If you cannot afford to properly care of a pet then maybe we as a society need to reexamine our priorities.

    January 15, 2013
    • You may think it’s a business decision until you have a pit bull and your dog is discriminated against only because of the breed. My pit bull has been discriminated against at a doggie day care because she is a pit bull (and she has never bitten a person or another dog). Merely because she is a pit bull is no reason to refuse me insurance of any kind. Should we discriminate against black people because they are black, white people because they are white, autistic people because they are autistic? Any of those people could make holes in walls, cause damage to houses, hurt people, etc., but we realize that it is wrong.

      January 15, 2013
  11. To the owner of the blog: You are incorrect in your listing of companies that take all breeds. There is one that I know of that do not insure most of the “dangerous” breeds.

    January 15, 2013
    • Which one? I’d be happy to make a correction. Also, it does vary from state to state, so certain companies are great in one place, not so much in another!

      January 15, 2013
  12. IFG #

    Amica is a wonderful company, and per the MSPCA, they do not discriminate.

    January 15, 2013
    • Thank you! MA residents seem to have fewer options than some other states – I appreciate the Amica tip!

      January 15, 2013
  13. Rosemary #

    The only company willing to write a policy for our house that includes windstorm (which we need, seeing as how we live on the Gulf Coast), without charging an arm and two legs, doesn’t discriminate against specific breeds. It just won’t cover any damages caused by domestic animals. That includes dog bites.

    January 15, 2013
  14. Thanks so much for the great article! I don’t have a home, so I was unaware the Progress is discriminating against some dog breeds. I’ll be finding a new insurance company when it’s time to renew!

    I have noticed that a fair number of campgrounds have breed restrictions and they always say their insurance companies are the cause. I would love to find a way to reach out to the insurance industry and urge them to stop the breed discrimination. It’s completely unfair and clearly companies that aren’t doing it are faring quite well financially.

    January 15, 2013
    • Thanks for reading! I know you guys have published some helpful tips for traveling with dogs (of all breeds) in the past – thank you for helping us all hit the road with our families! Over on Facebook, an insurance agent made a good point about changing state laws in regards to insurance discrimination. Ultimately, in order to change anything, we’ll need to have laws that prohibit companies from discriminatory policies…and it’s tough to do that when there are local governments that still ban certain kinds of dogs. So the big picture: deal with BSL in our governments, then private businesses. But – we can still give our money to companies that are treating families fairly AND write to those who aren’t, to express our disappointment. Those campgrounds need to know why you’re not giving them business. Who know? Maybe one day they’ll be motivated to switch companies/policies! It has happened!

      January 15, 2013
  15. Pam #

    Wow! I have never heard of this before. We have Jack Russells and our insurance company (Traveler’s) never asked us about our dogs or anything like that. I am definitely spreading the word and educating myself more.

    January 15, 2013
  16. In April 2012, my Akita bit my neighbor. At first, State Farm was great. They talked about how they have a “free bite” policy – basically, your dog gets a pass the first time with no consequences, supposedly. Someone should tell that to their underwriters.

    After we sold our house and moved, we took out a renters’ policy with State Farm. A couple of months went by and I got a call from a girl who works in our agent’s office. Without any preamble, she tells me that they are not going to give us a renters’ policy and that our premiums will be returned. I hung up, called my husband and told him what was happening. He called and spoke to our agent, who said that the underwriters had reviewed our policy and wanted to refuse coverage since we still had our Akita, even though the claim related to him biting our neighbor was not settled (and still isn’t). But until we got written notice from State Farm that we were being cancelled, he said they we were covered.

    I decided not to wait for State Farm to cancel our policy, which I had a suspicion that they were going to do regardless of what our agent said.

    I moved everything (auto, homeowners/renters, personal articles) to Farm Bureau, where our new agent thought that State Farm’s underwriters were over-reacting, given the circumstances.

    Two weeks after I told State Farm to cancel all my policies, that I had moved my business to another company, I got the letter saying that they wouldn’t cover our home as long as we had our Akita.

    I had auto policies with them for over 20 years, homeowners/renters for more than 8 years, and had owned my Akita for 10 years. None of that mattered in the long run. They didn’t stop to consider anything other than the fact that it was going to cost them money. Which I think makes them hypocrites, because the State Farm adjuster told me she knew of a woman whose dog had been involved in several bite incidents and that woman still has homeowners coverage! Yet, my dog is involved in ONE bite incident, and they drop me like a hot potato. So much for their one free bite policy.

    My big fuzzy boy died a little over a month ago. When I emailed the State Farm adjuster handling the claim to let her know, all I was asked was did he die from old age/illness/etc. I also notified my Farm Bureau agent. He sent me a lovely, sympathetic email back. I will NEVER do business with State Farm again.

    January 15, 2013
    • I’m so sorry about your loss Courtney. And I’m really glad you were able to find another company that was willing to work with your family. Many companies drop dogs with bite histories, so it’s good to know that Farm Bureau was/is an option for families in similar situations. Your agent sounds like a really good guy and I’m glad he has your business.

      January 15, 2013
      • Thank you. It hasn’t been easy getting used to him being gone.

        January 15, 2013
    • Alicia #

      Sorry for your loss. I LOVE Farm Bureau. My agent is awesome, and insurance on my APBT (just in case something happens) is $12 a year. My home owners, renters (different address), and cars are all cheaper than the big name companies too!

      January 16, 2013
    • Lisa Alger #

      Hey, sorry to hear you lost your beloved pet. I, too, lost mine 14 December. With me 11-1/2 years. Did Rainbow Bridge the following Monday. It’s heartbreaking. I’m sure he’s the one Nationwide was talking about had a “bite history” which is a flat out lie, but I will never deal with them — EVER again! Take care….Lisa

      January 19, 2013
  17. marie #

    i have a pitbull/bull mastiff and she looks just the same as boogie!! i have had so many problems with people stereotyping my dog and she couldn’t be a more kind and gentile dog!! i cant believe some people and places. also companies!!

    January 15, 2013
  18. Angie Huser #

    @Courtney…I am not sticking up for State Farm (SF), but there could be other circumstances that resulted in your policy being cancelled. My office had a extremely serious dog bite claim many years ago that resulted in their personal liability coverage and medical payments coverage to be maxed out on the claim. However, the policy was not cancelled. They had longevity with State Farm, which helps out with any claim, whether it is auto, homeowners, renters, etc. Most companies look at various components when deciding whether or not to cancel a policy. There are a lot of questions I have in regards to your situation, in which the answers would probably make it clear why that decision to not write your renters was arrived at. Again, I am not sticking up for SF, but from MANY years of experience, it takes more than just one claim to cancel a policy.

    One other thing to keep in mind is that there may be additional underwriting rules within your state, city, etc. Some states have filed various rules and regs with the state department of insurance that could result in underwriting decisions to appear to be askewed to others. Again, there are usually other circumstances that will have caused the underwriters to make the decision that they did. Also, a good agent would have appealed the underwriting decision if he/she felt that it was unwarranted. So, it may not all be the underwriters after all.

    State Farm does not have a “free bite” policy. A claim is a claim. Just like SF does not have a “free burglary”, “free tornado” policy, etc. A sudden and accidental incident is a claim. There are no “freebies” written in to the policies. A caveat to that is longevity. If you have had your homeowners/renters/condo policy for “X” number of years, although you file a claim, the type of claim you file may not affect your rate, nor will it set you up for cancellation. The claim will show up as a claim in your file, but will not “count” against you. Weather claims and medical claims do not typically affect a policy. Other claims, such as a water pipe that burst and caused water damage, a burglery, a dog bite, etc. can and will affect a policy, no matter if anything is paid out or not. If there are a number of claims on file, then that is one thing that will help underwriters make the decision to cancel you or not.

    Underwriters tend to take what they do pretty seriously. The decisions that they make can come back at them and their supervisors, lead to policy & premiums losses, and on the good side, an increase in policy count and premiums. No company wants to lose business, so they are not going to just toss a client away.

    I am sorry that you had that experience with SF, but I feel that there is more to it and additional issues that contributed to what happened. I feel that the agent failed in his “Good Neighbor Service” in not appealing the decision and asking for leeway. I feel that the claims rep was just a jerk, and you get that anywhere you go. People are not always jolly and joyous and we take it out on others. We have had MANY clients come to us from Farmers and Farm Bureau for the same reasons. Evil underwritiers and claim adjusters, evil agents, and evil everything. Things happen and while life may be all rosey now, that can change in an instant if and when something happens.

    What everyone see on the outside is not what is happening on the inside. Ask questions and get answers before you make a final decision. We do, and the client should too. :)

    January 16, 2013
  19. Heath #

    I’m a landlord and I love Pit Bulls. I don’t understand the issue with renting to people with Pit Bulls. My rental agreement basically states that if you have a dog, you will have renter’s insurance that covers the dog. I get a copy of the policy before the dog moves in, you maintain the policy as long as the dog is there. As long as the renter has the policy, I’m not getting sued, if the renter drops the policy then I have someone to sue. The insurance is relatively cheap. I keep my rental a little below market value. So the renter has to buy insurance, no big deal when the rent is cheap, and then I charge them a $100 pet fee. No crazy deposit, just a flat fee. You can’t do that for kids, and kids cause far more damage than the average dog. So, you offer a good deal to someone with a dog, and you will have renters lined up wanting your place. Got a good candidate with a Pit, take the Pit. They will be so grateful, they will take care of your place and they will do anything to avoid trouble. Dog people aren’t uptight about little things. They are easy tenants, and I have never had an issue.

    January 17, 2013
    • As a pit bull owner who rented for years, thank you! I took my role as a dog owner/renter seriously (I was so grateful, like you said) and aimed to be a model tenant, not only so that my pets were welcome, but that future tenants with pets would be welcomed by my landlord. And, I carried State Farm Renters insurance as well. Thanks for being a fair landlord Heath – you’re helping to keep families together!

      January 17, 2013
  20. Christina #

    Have had dogs my whole life, often a Doberman or two. My parents were insured with Farmers and I have always been as well, both home and cars. No breed discrimination with Farmers and they’ve always been competitively priced. On principle, I will never be insured with a company that practices breed discrimination, whether I have Dobes or not.

    January 17, 2013
  21. I am a Corporate spokesperson for State Farm and I am also responsible for our annual dog bite awareness campaign. I came across your blog and had to thank you not only for being a State Farm customer, but for also educating others about responsible pet ownership. As a company, State Farm continues to stress the importance of responsible pet ownership and about teaching children (and many adults) about how to approach a dog safely – ANY dog – regardless of breed. Accidents will happen but as a company we recognize that educating pet owners about minimizing the risk of a dog bite incident has more value than placing the blame on specific dog breeds.

    We ask all of you as pet owners, as parents, and as citizens to continue to talk about safety around animals and about ways to reduce the chance of a dog bite incident. There isn’t anyone who would want to see someone attacked or bitten by a dog but unless we change how we interact with animals and give them the proper respect, dog bites will continue to happen no matter how many breeds are discriminated against. For information about the top states for dog bites based on State Farm claims data, you can visit our 2012 national news release at http://www.multivu.com/mnr/49916-state-farm-top-ten-states-dog-bite-claims-american-humane-association. Thank you for your support and let’s continue to have this type of dialogue about pet owner responsibility and child safety because we all should know, it’s not the breed but the bite that matters.

    January 18, 2013
    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I agree that responsible ownership and education are the key to positive, safe interactions with dogs of all breeds and mixes. Thank you for providing non-discriminatory insurance options AND public education!

      -Jessica

      January 18, 2013
  22. Lisa Alger #

    I can’t believe I’m reading this!! I, too, just got DENIED INSURANCE WITH NATIONWIDE (what’s their great slogan, “We’re on your side”??) because they ASSUMED (makes an ass out of you and me) that my black lab OR GERMAN SHEPHERD (the one they say had bite history)! I was with them two months, then got letter canceling my insurance in 30 days! I called them, they said my German Shepherd had bite history (She is 3 and has no such thing, neither does lab)!. So I got ahold of my local insurance commissioner. Nothing they could do but file the complaint. I got a company through a friend on Facebook and am much happier. My dogs don’t even go outside as I’m in a development. They are in my fenced back yard or in my car! Sadly, I lost the black lab they were probably talking about but said shepherd. He barked (instinct to protect, right?) when I was chatting with the insurance guy taking pics of house. BUT THAT’S NOT THE END OF IT. I get a letter later in mail that their computers were hacked and that my personal info is at risk!!!!!!! So gave me one year of “free” credit report monitoring. Just today had to change passwords from suspicious activity from Chicago… SO I hear you!!! Thank you!!!

    January 19, 2013
  23. RNB #

    I left Progressive when I adopted my first Doberman ten years ago. They would not give me renter’s insurance at all because he was a ‘dangerous breed.’ I didn’t have the option at the time of paying an extra fee, since the agent I talked to flat out turned me down.

    I swapped to State Farm and bundled auto and renter’s insurance. Their rates are about the same in my area as the other companies, and they do not discriminate based on the dog’s breed. They’ve been fantastic. Good to see State Farm reps commenting here too, because now I can tell you how much your dog policies are appreciated. I also recommend State Farm to other Doberman owners, because we have a hard time finding insurance.

    January 22, 2013
  24. Theresa #

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am one of the people advocating for the military to someday standardize military pet policies and end military housing breed bans. It seems like there’s so many ways military housing companies could adopt breed neutral policies, but sadly that’s not the case and families that sacrifice so much for our country suffer as a result. In the future, I hope to see more advocacy on the housing insurance front. Much of the larger animal welfare groups seem so focused on ending BSL, this issue seems largely ignored but affects so many.

    Here’s a link to our petition with more than 26,000 signatures: http://www.change.org/petitions/standardize-military-pet-policies

    January 30, 2013
  25. Jennifer #

    The State Farm here in Washington, at least the one in Wenatchee, WA does not allow pit bulls. I’m not sure they can do that, but they were going to drop my grandma, who we were renting from and who had a policy for them for years, because we had pitbulls.

    January 30, 2013
    • Jennifer, it is a company-wide policy not to discriminate based on the breed of the dog unless there is local or state legislation that requires additional personal liability coverage to be purchased. I don’t know regulations in Wenatchee, WA or that county so I can’t comment on that but I can tell you that we wouldn’t drop your grandma’s insurance just because you have pitbulls. I am terribly sorry that your grandma had that experience though!

      January 30, 2013
      • Lisa Alger #

        Hey, thanks for posting your comment. I live in Idaho and had Nationwide for TWO months. They cancelled me because of my GERMAN SHEPHERD!!!!!!! I had a lab also at the time, but he sadly passed away in December. This all happened last fall. Anyway, got new insurance but wrote my CDA insurance commissioner who could only keep a log of it. Anyway, this is DISCRIMINATION when there is NO “biting history”. They assume ALL dog owners are a RISK! I live in a development and dogs cannot be loose. Mine are in my back yard and the one they referred to in their cancellation is a 3-yr old German Shepherd. UGH! Lisa Alger

        January 30, 2013
  26. Wow, I’m european and when my ACD bit a hole in a trouser my insurance simply paid for new ones and that was that. I have never had to tell what breed my dogs are to my insurer. Standard liability insurance covarage includes one dog.

    February 3, 2013
  27. roberta #

    i heard farmers was going to start to discriminate as of march 1, 2013.

    February 9, 2013
  28. Sarah #

    I’m waiting for State Farm in MA as well! I’m currently under review with my insurance company (Circle) because we have a German shepherd. It’s not right.

    February 19, 2013
    • Sarah, one of the above comments mentioned that Amica was a good option in MA. Might be worth checking out!

      February 21, 2013
  29. Stacey #

    I just ended my long time relationship with Farmers for the exact same reason!!!! They lost out on years of auto, home, and umbrella policies that come to mucho dinero! Feels sooooo gooooood! And not because I own a Pit Bull, but I love them and maybe one day I do want to own one :)

    March 29, 2013
    • Awesome! And thanks for standing up with all of us who are being discriminated against!

      March 29, 2013
  30. PatBostwick #

    “It’s the only way we can influence profit-driven businesses to stop discriminating against dogs based solely on how they look.”

    What a ridiculous comment! If “profit-driven businesses” did not discriminate against young male drivers, drivers with multiple driving violations, dangerous dogs, etc. they wouldn’t make any “profit.” How is discriminating against some worthless dog any different than discriminating against a driver because of his age? Insurance companies are all about making money — otherwise they could not survive — and considering the horrendous damage done by pit bulls when they attack in comparison to other dogs, any company that insures pit bulls is managed by fools!

    As for State Farm, it has paid out so much on dog bite claims that the company is refusing to pay insureds seriously injured in automobile accidents, etc. I personally know a man who was almost killed in an accident and is now permanently impaired and State Farm is refusing to pay. He hired a lawyer and when it came time to renew his policies, although he had been a State Farm customer for almost 40 years, he went with another company. State Farm wrote letters, etc. wanting to know why he “left” the company and he wrote “Pit Bulls” in red ink across one of the letters and returned it! It’s just a matter of time before the people at State Farm “wake up” and join other companies in refusing to insure these land-sharks!

    April 11, 2013
    • My “worthless dog” (who has been my loving family member for years) and I just wanted to explain the difference between declining coverage to someone with multiple driving violations and discriminating against a family based on the way their dog looks. Driving violations are *proof of reckless behavior* and warrant penalties. Refusing coverage to someone because you *suspect* they will behave recklessly in the future, based on how they look, and refusing them coverage is discrimination. And age discrimination isn’t the same either: humans can still qualify for coverage, even if they’re young and male. Dogs of certain breeds or mixes are flat out refused. Young humans can also attain fair coverage due to their good behavior (like being an honors student), which means they’re being assessed as individuals. Furthermore, humans are responsible for their own actions. Dog behavior cannot be characterized out of the context of the human beings that are responsible for them – humans are ultimately responsible for their dog’s behavior.

      ALL dogs and humans must be held *equally* accountable for their actions. No one – dog or human – should be discriminated against based on physical appearance or stereotypes that don’t apply to them. Insurance companies need to assess risk based on individual dogs and their owners. That’s the key to safe communities and non-discriminatory, profitable business practices.

      p.s Countless national experts (from the CDC to the National Animal Control Association) do not recommend breed-specific policies or breed discrimination. In fact, the The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) exhaustive review of dog bite studies conducted in North America has concluded that separate regulation of “pit bull” dogs [or other breeds labeled “dangerous”] is not a basis for dog bite prevention. “Serious bites occur due to a range of factors,” conclude these authors. (http://www.animalfarmfoundation.org/files/Community_approach_to_dog_bite_prevention.pdf)

      Take your uneducated hate to someone else’s blog.

      April 11, 2013
    • PatBostwick, I disagree with your conclusions and let me tell you why. For 25 years the State of Ohio was the only state with a statewide law that singled out “pit bulls” for discriminatory treatment. Under that law a dog was labeled as “vicious” for causing any injury to a person or injury or death to another dog, or if the dog “belongs to a breed commonly known as a pit bull”. The statewide law included the regulation that insurers could not provide homeowners or rental coverage for the owners of a “pit bull” breed unless the owner agreed to purchase a minimum of $100,000 of liability insurance first. Needless to say State Farm didn’t write many policies for pit bull owners in Ohio because of the expensive liability coverage requirement.

      During this time based on State Farm claims data, Ohio was ranked as the #3 state for dog bites. Because we were not writing many policies for pit bull owners (and other insurers weren’t either), it appears that other dog breeds were involved in these dog bite claims.

      In February 2012, the State of Ohio repealed their statewide breed discrimination law and opened the doors for those previous “vicious dog owners” to have homeowners and rental insurance written without the liability insurance regulation. I just received our 2012 dog bite claims numbers and with all of those vicious pit bulls on our books now, guess what happened…we saw a REDUCTION in what we paid in Ohio for dog bite claims and Ohio maintained their ranking as the state with the 4th highest number of dog bite claims behind the state of Texas (Ohio was ranked 4th in 2011 and 2012).

      My point here is that we can’t focus on the dog breed for bite incidents. As the largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. we recognize that. Since February 2012 when we began writing insurance for pit bull owners in Ohio, the amount we have paid in dog bite claims was actually the lowest in the past 4 years. Let’s continue to educate pet owners and the general public about pet safety to reduce the overall number of dog bite incidents rather than exert time, energy, and resources to ban breeds.

      April 11, 2013
      • Thank you Heather. I appreciate your comments so very much.

        April 11, 2013
      • barksNpurrs #

        An idea–I think insurance companies should start thinking about a “discount” for responsible pet owners who make the time to attend Obedience classes & other positive animal-related dog classes. Participating in these classes, assists dogs, as well as their humans in learning appropriate behaviors & handling. Plus, they tire dogs out & as we all know: “A tired dog is a happy dog!”…& owner! Of course, owners would need to show proof of attendance & passing the course by certified-only instructors. Contact from the insurance companies, to the certified dog-instructed facility is a must to, once again verify proof. I think more owners would attend these classes for the discount. I know the dog facilities would not mind the interaction from insurance companies. Perhaps a list of bona fide, certified-dog instructor facilities could receive a “seal of approval” from the insurance companies. Just a thought…..

        April 11, 2013
  31. Alicia #

    Farm Bureau (not to be confused with Farmers Insurance) does not discriminate. Not available in all state though..

    April 18, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Maine: Take a Stand Against Discrimination and Support L.D. 1192 | notes from a dog walker
  2. The Nose Knows: State Farm’s Arson Dog Program | notes from a dog walker

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