Can a Homeowner’s Insurance Carrier refuse to insure a home when an owner or tenant has a specific dog breed, like a pit bull, as a service or emotional support animal?
The Answer is NO!
The insurance law was amended recently to prevent homeowners’ insurance carriers from refusing to issue or renew or from cancelling policies, or charging increased premiums or rates because the occupant of a home owns a specific dog breed.
Over the years, licensees have been asked by landlord clients whether they could deny accommodations to tenants with certain dog breeds because insurance carriers would not provide insurance coverage for those breeds, as they deemed them dangerous.
But now with this amendment, homeowners’ insurance carriers must provide insurance coverage for all dog breeds and can only deny coverage if that particular dog (not the breed) has been legally determined to be dangerous. For example, if it were proven in court that a particular dog bit a child, then that particular dog could be considered dangerous and the insurance carrier could refuse to provide insurance coverage for the home where that dog resides.
This is an important update to the law because now persons who require dogs as service animals or emotional support animals cannot be denied accommodations by landlords who claim their insurance carriers would not provide homeowners’ insurance because of that dog breed.
Landlords with a no pet policy must make reasonable accommodations to allow persons with dogs as service animals or emotional support animals to keep such animal regardless of its breed, and cannot charge a fee or additional rent to such persons. Outright denials to accept tenants with service or emotional support dogs can result in a violation of state and federal fair housing laws.
It is important to understand that parties with dogs as service animals or emotional support animals must be treated in the same way as people without them. The only exception would be if the particular dog poses a direct threat or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others, and such conclusions cannot be based on speculation or breed stereotype.