March 21, 2005

If a Washington measure becomes law, responsible pet owners who take care of their animals will face higher insurance costs to subsidize rates for others with dogs more likely to bite, according to the American Insurance Association. AIA is urging members of the Washington House to vote no on HB 1016, authored by Representative Tom Campbell (R). This measure limits an insurer’s ability to underwrite homeowners insurance based on a specific breed of dog. “The Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bites accounted for 25 percent of all homeowners insurance claims in 2003, at a cost of $321.6 million in liability losses,” said Steve Suchil, AIA assistant vice president, western region. “This is a very serious issue for homeowners and insurers. Certain breeds of dogs are known to have a higher propensity to act viciously. Insurers should be able to consider the breed of dog living in the house during the underwriting process when deciding to offer a policy. Without this information, responsible homeowners will pay higher insurance premiums to cover dog bite losses that will inevitably occur,” Suchil said. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, resulting in 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. According to the CDC, 50 percent of these incidents occur on the dog owner’s property. HB 1016 is currently on the House floor for debate and vote by the full Washington House of Representatives.

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Insurance Journal West March 21, 2005
March 21, 2005
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