Illinois House advances bill to end insurance restrictions on dog breeds

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Sometimes homeowners’ and renters’ insurance companies do not cover large breeds of dogs or charge extra for families with certain breeds of dogs. A new bill that is gaining momentum in the Illinois legislature will ban insurance companies from the practice.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) will prohibit policies that refuse to issue or renew, cancel, or charge a premium rate for a policy if a homeowner adopts a dog of a certain breed. A 2022 study published by Science Magazine shows that a dog’s behavior is only 9% determined by its breed.

“We want to put the focus where it belongs: on dog behavior, not dog breed,” said Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society.

According to VanKavage, many families don’t find out that their insurance policy doesn’t cover their purebred dog until they adopt the dog. He says housing and insurance are the number one reasons dogs are released back into shelters.

“Some people actually, because they can’t find insurance and they don’t have a lot of money, they actually turn their animals into shelters so they can defend their homes,” says VanKavage. “It destroys families and it’s so tragic.”

The bill would allow insurance companies to cancel policies if individual dogs are deemed “dangerous or vicious” under the state’s Animal Control Act.

The bill passed the Illinois House with bipartisan support 83-31 Thursday. Now head to the Senate where it is sponsored by Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).

States such as New York, Nevada, and Arizona have passed similar laws. Another 12 states are currently considering legislation to prevent insurance companies from excluding certain dog breeds from their policies.

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