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New York State Dog Law Impacts Homeowners Insurance

NYS Governor Hochul signed a law in October 2021 that went into effect on January 1, 2022 that New York dog owners will no longer face homeowner’s insurance consequences or penalties based on the type of dog they own. It’s important to note that this law only applies to homeowners and not residents of apartment buildings or landlords.

The new law basically states, “ insurer shall refuse to issue or renew, cancel or charge or impose and increased premium or rate based solely upon harboring or owning any dog of a specific breed or mixture of breeds.” Insurance companies can still take negative action if a dog is declared dangerous as defined in the law. (ie dog has a history of biting or attacking people). The decision cannot be based solely on the breed of the dog.

We polled the different insurance companies that C.H. works with to find out how they are implementing this law. Most of the carriers we polled are amending their applications to remove the dog breed question, however, they are asking if the dog has a bite/attack history. Some carriers have opted to meet the dog as part of their home inspection process. A couple of the carriers are considering limiting the amount of the liability offered on a policy based on the dog’s history.

Dog Bites by the Numbers

Accidents involving dog bites cost the insurance industry over $1 billion per year and are now the largest cause of homeowners insurance claims.

81% of dog bites cause no injury at all or only minor injuries that do not require medical attention.

You have a 1 in 112,400 chance of dying from a dog bite or strike.

Most dog bites involve dogs who are not spayed and neutered.

Fatal Dog Attacks – 25% of fatal attacks were inflicted by chained dogs of many different breeds.

California continues to have the largest number of claims in the United States, at 2,026 in 2021, down from 2,103 in 2020. The state with the second highest number of claims was Florida at 1,478. New York had the highest average cost per claim at $68,203, followed by North Carolina with an average cost of $63,247. The trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., which can result in injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses

In 2021 - New York had approximately 900 claims. At an average cost per claim $68,203, the cost to the insurance industry was approximately $61 million dollars.

Tips to Prevent Dog Bites and Keep Your Guests Safe

Whether you are a renter in house, building or a homeowner we are all responsible for the care and control of our beloved dogs.

Many times, a good dog can have a bad day and can seriously cause personal injury with a bite.

Here are a few simple ideas that could help your pooch stay out of trouble.

  • Provide exercises as much as possible to help take some of that energy out of them.

  • Work on training to keep dogs from jumping up on visitors to avoid knocking someone over and basic control of commands.

  • If your dog happens to have anxiety when people visit your residence, find a safe space both for them and your guests and place the dog, possibly in a room or crate?

  • When walking your dog or at the park, always keep them on a lease and in control.

  • Us a structural or electric fence to let your dog get their exercise, but also keep them on your property.

  • If you can, especially with all the home deliveries services, restrict the pet away from your front door, or try to keep them indoors during regular delivery times.

  • Some dogs can feel great separation anxiety and once you leave your home or apartment may bark for long periods of time. Seek training tools to help your pet as well as your neighbors.

  • Create a “resume” for your pet that includes a photo, favorite activities, certifications, and even a short adoption story. Extras could include a letter of reference from a current or most recent property owner, written proof that your dog has completed a training class, and a letter from the vet showing your pet is spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccines.

  • Invite property owners to meet your pet.

  • Be prepared and willing to pay a reasonable extra amount in rent or pay a refundable pet deposit.

Dogs can bring a large amount of joy but they do come with responsibility. Attending to your dog’s needs and showing affection will go a long way not only to keeping your dog happy and visitors safe but also save you money from unnecessary claims and potential lawsuits.

Presented by the CH Insurance Risk Management team. For any questions please give us a call at 315-234-7500 or visit our website at


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