Dogs & Insurance: So Doggone Confusing — Arizona’s Cure

It’s doggone hard — if you’re an insurer — to set homeowner’s risk for dogs. When setting policy price risk considerations are the breed, tendency to bite, or do other damages, etc. If you’re an insured, the breed of dog matters when it comes getting an insurance company to consider insuring them.

It all seems so confusing and — sometimes — so unfair.

Worse, the individual states all seem to have different rules as to the what and how, and why of insuring a dog or dogs. This brings us to Arizona.

In the PIA Western Alliance state of Arizona, the Arizona Legislature passed A.R.S. §20-1510. It relates to dogs and how they fit into a homeowners policy. The Arizona Department of Insurance and financial Institutions has now put the new regulations in place and they go into full effect on June 30th.

The new law starts with making it clear that an insurer cannot discriminate against someone owning a certain breed of dog, and that breed of dog can’t be the sole reason an insurance company does any kind of an underwriting action.

It also puts some definitions into place. The first is breed. It is defined as the actual or perceived breed or mixture of breeds for a dog. Many dogs are defined as a breed when they’re actually just a type of dog. So insurers now have to pay attention to that.

A pit bull is an example. A of dogs can be defined as a pit bull. These are dogs that share similar characteristics. Among them are the American Pit Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs.

They share similar statistics with each other and are in the Pit Bull breed.

Many insurers have lists of dogs they won’t cover. Among them are the aforementioned Pit Bulls, Chows, Dobermans, German Shepherds and other large dogs capable of hurting someone if they go into attack mode, or if not attack mode, just get a bit more aggressive and hurt someone.

Just because they’re “that kind of dog” doesn’t mean they’re dangerous. The American Veterinary Medical Association notes what most of us already know. Any dog can bite. What kind of dog doesn’t matter as much as the behavior of the dog and its history.

The actions of humans that are around the dog also have to be taken into account if a dog bite occurs.

The second thing the law puts into place is a definition of policy of insurance. It is defined as the homeowner or renter’s insurance policy. Supporters of the law say this definition is important because a lot of breed ban problems happen within personal lines policies for people owning those breeds.

Here’s what A.R.S. § 20-1510 looks like for homeowners or renter’s insurance and how it defines dog breeds; prohibitions; definitions:

A. The breed of a dog may not be the sole factor considered or used for any of the following purposes:

1. Underwriting or actuarial processes for determining risk, liability or actual or potential losses related to claims involving dogs under a policy of insurance.

2. Questionnaires, surveys or other means of gathering information regarding ownership or possession of a dog or the presence of a dog on premises insured or to be insured under a policy of insurance.

B. For the purposes of this section:

1. “Breed” means the actual or perceived breed or mixture of breeds of a dog.

2. “Policy of insurance” means a homeowner’s or renter’s policy of insurance.

If you’re a PIA member agent in Arizona, or a non-member reading this story, definitions within the law and answers to frequently can be found on this link:

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About PIA Western Alliance

The Professional Insurance Agents Western Alliance is a membership organization promoting and enhancing the success of independent agencies seeking to grow, learn and be heard within the industry.


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