Insurance Company Breed Discrimination Comes to an End in Illinois


In Illinois, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to profile based on dog breed. Today (May 4) the Illinois Senate passed HB 1049 by a 44 to 13 vote. The bill previously passed the House of Representatives, and now only awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature, which appears likely at what should be a celebratory signing ceremony.

Currently if you adopt a certain breed, many insurance companies will instantly drop your homeowners, rental or condo insurance or if you have a certain breed (or mix) you may not even know you may not have coverage until you need that coverage.

Of course, no dog bred is inherently dangerous. And insurance carriers which are so scrupulous about actuarial data have nothing but anecdotal data when it comes to dog bites related to breed, which are often mistakenly identified.  Also, insurance is regulated state by state. So, for example, a Doberman in Illinois may be banned by insurance company X, but in Indiana that same insurance company may be just fine with Dobermans. How can a breed be automatically considered dangerous in one state and not another state?

Led by senior legislative analyst Ledy VanKavage Best Friends Animal SocietyIllinois Rep. Rita Mayfield and Illinois Senator Linda Holmes, the effort to stop judging a dog on how the dog looks  now appears to be successful in Illinois.

The bill includes this language:

No insurer shall refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or charge or impose an increased premium or rate for a policy or contract, or exclude, limit, restrict, or reduce coverage under a policy or contract based solely upon harboring or owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds.

Of course, if a dog is deemed dangerous, from Pomeranian to pit bull to Pug, that’s another story. But then the insurance is right making a decision based on the individual dog.

This is the first bill that mirrors that National Council of Insurance Legislators’ Model, which sets the stage for others to follow. Already, Nevada, New York, Arizona and Pennsylvania are the four states that have, so far, stood up to the insurance companies by prohibiting insurers from breed discrimination. Colorado is waiting in the wings to do the same.