ACIC Opposes Calif. Dog Liability Bill

May 3, 2004

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) is opposing legislation that would require homeowner policies to insure – and accept the liability – of all dogs and every breed, regardless of their vicious propensities.

“Each year an alarming number of vicious injuries and fatal attacks against humans are attributed to certain breeds of dogs. There are breeds that can bite with a force averaging 1,000 pounds per square inch, while others can bite with twice that force, enough to mutilate a child or adult in seconds,” said ACIC President Sam Sorich.

“The oftentimes unprovoked and fierce nature of attacks further supports the insurance companies’ right to incorporate such information into their risk assessment,” added Sorich.

The bill, AB 2399 by Assemblywoman Carol Lui (D-La Canada), would prohibit insurers from refusing to issue or renew homeowner policies based upon the breed of dog residing in the dwelling. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Insurance Committee May 5.

Sorich pointed out that the Humane Society of the United States reports that some $1 billion is paid each year in insurance liability claims based on dog bites. More than 4.7 million Americans suffer dog bites each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Children are three times more likely to require medical treatment for dog bites. And, the vast majority of those children are bitten on the face, neck and head, requiring plastic and reconstructive surgery,” said Sorich, noting there are 18 deaths on average every year from dog bites.

“We understand the intent of the proposed legislation – to avoid the assumption that a dog may be vicious merely because of breed. However, with some breeds representing an unusually high risk, insurers must be able to make the determination whether or not they can take on the risk.”

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