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.
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.
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.