N.Y.: Senate, Assembly insurance committees to consider dog-breed law amendment

May 21, 2024

Following victories for pet-loving homeowners in 2021 and 2022, when Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Chapter 545 of the Laws of 2021 and Chapter 679 of the Laws of 2022—which prohibited insurance companies from refusing to issue, renew or increase premiums, as well as excluding, limiting, restricting or reducing coverage on homeowners policies based on dog breeds—the New York state Legislature is considering a similar proposal that would extend these protections to renters.

Introduced by Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, D-12, and Manhattan-based Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, D-67, on Jan. 3, 2024, S.7416-B/A.6867-B would prohibit insurers from refusing, canceling or increasing premiums on renters insurance policies, or limiting coverage, based solely on the breeds of dogs the insureds own.

As a Border Collie owner—a breed typically not affected by dog breed laws—and a renter searching for a new apartment, I am keenly aware that New York’s current laws do not protect renters from insurance companies that refuse to issue, renew, charge more or limit coverage on renters insurance policies solely because of the dog breed owned by the policyholder. Even though my dog is not considered aggressive, I understand that the law currently allows insurers to take these actions.

S.7416-B would extend the same protections to renters that homeowners currently enjoy, treating both groups fairly regardless of the dog’s breed. However, it is likely that if this bill were to become law, renters insurance costs for all dog owners would increase. By removing the insurers’ ability to rate policies based on dog breeds, they may simply charge all renters with dogs a higher premium.

Recent data from the Insurance Information Institute reveals that, in 2023, New York state ranked seventh among states for the number and cost of dog bite claims. There were 851 claims, averaging $66,578 per claim approximately, with a total valuation of $56.7 million.

With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, S.7416-B/A.6867-B are poised to successfully pass through the Senate and Assembly insurance committees on May 20, 2024, and Wednesday, May 22, 2024, respectively.

As the session nears its conclusion, PIANY staff will remain engaged, tracking the progress of these pivotal bills diligently.

Theophilus Alexander
PIA Northeast

Theophilus W. Alexander joined PIA Northeast as a government & industry affairs specialist for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. Prior to joining PIA, Theo had served in both houses of the New York State Legislature. Previously, he worked as a legislative analyst for Hon. New York State Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-55, and he served at the New York State Assembly, as a policy analyst with New York Assembly Program & Counsel. Theo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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