Updated: Sunday, 17 May 2009, 11:53 PM EDT
Published : Sunday, 17 May 2009, 11:53 PM EDT
Milford (WTNH) - One Milford woman was denied insurance coverage all because of the type of dog she owns. And, now she wants to warn other pet owners that they, too, may be at risk.
When it comes to her dog Pryor, Laura Pendleton treats him like family.
"He was a rescue dog," she said.
Pryor came from a Shelter 9-years ago. And since then, the Pitbull Mix has lived with Laura at her home in Milford without any trouble. She's got paperwork from the vet to prove it.
"He said he is an asset to society and he's a loyal, fun-loving, neutered dog," said Laura.
So, when it came time to renew her homeowner's insurance policy, Laura thought nothing of filling out a questionnaire that asked whether a dog lived at the residence and if so what breed.
"And I said American Staffordshire Terrier and two days later I got the renewal notice denied," she said. "And the reason they gave was that he is an unacceptable mix."
So what changed? Why was Laura being dropped by The Hartford? News Channel 8 asked Laura's insurance agent.
"Initially my understanding is the was a terrier mix and that did not present a problem," said Insurance Agent Don Burns. "And on a questionnaire, she indicated the dog was a Pitbull, but breed Pitbull which is going to cause a problem with just about every insurance company in the world."
"When I called him that night I got the cancellation notice he told me that perhaps I was too forthcoming on the questionnaire; that upset me even more," said Laura. "I don't think it's fair to be punished on a breed."
But it's not just Pitbulls that are considered a risk by insurance companies. Other breeds like Rottweilers, Doberman Pincher and German Shepherds are sometimes questioned. It all depends on the insurance company you are dealing with.
"I think it's discrimination," said Laura.
State Senator Ed Myers proposed legislation that forbids insurance companies from denying homeowners insurance because of a specific breed.
It would all allow homeowners to get insurance at a higher premium if their dog has bitten someone before.
"I think there is a way out of this and we are going to do this legislatively," said Sen. Myers.
What does the state insurance department have to say?
"Connecticut does allow insurance companies to exclude a specific breed based on risk. It does not allow insurance companies blanket exclusions for all breeds of dogs because the state says that would be unfairly discriminatory to dog owners."
This means insurance companies cannot have a policy that says no dogs will be covered.
The state said because of competition there are insurance companies that will insure pet owners like Laura who says Pryor is staying put.
"Cause he is not going anywhere, he's just not, he's been part of the family for too long," Laura said.
Laura has since found an insurance company that will cover her dog. The legislation may be heard in the coming weeks.