Assistance Animals

The Impact of Insurance Breed Restrictions on Assistance Animal Accommodation Requests

    The following is a partial transcript from the PetScreening pawdcast, ep.3. To listen to the full episode, click here.

    "Hi! It's John Bradford, pet lover and founder of Welcome to the PetScreening podcast. Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about insurance companies and their restrictions regarding pets, and how sometimes this is used as a reason to deny someone from bringing a specific breed into a property under their accommodation request. We're going to talk about why that is not a wise thing to do or why that is not a wise reason to use as to why you're denying an accommodation request.

    So, let's just first talk about pets because in this podcast it's important to really make sure you understand the difference between a pet versus an animal. We all know pets are a lot like family. Pets are not a protected class. So, yes, you can turn a pet down for any reason. You can say the tail is too long, the ears are too floppy, it's too fluffy, it sheds too much. That is totally up to you.

    When it comes to animals, animals are not a “pet”. Animals — under the definition of the Fair Housing Act — are an assistance animal which includes a variety of different types of animals. It could be a service animal, an emotional support animal, companion animal, therapy animal. The broad base term here is “assistance animal”, but that animal ameliorates a disability for the individual that's living in your property.

    When it comes to insurance policies here at, we hear from a lot of our customers and they ask a lot of great questions and then we see a lot of posts online about how people are going to deny a particular dog. Let's let's just pick on a pitbull for a moment. Now, I want to be clear that at, we do not believe every pitbull is a bad dog, but I know there seems to be the stigma that pitbulls are dangerous. I agree that they're very muscular strong dogs, and so there is higher risk. There's no secret there. But that said, insurance providers — not all by the way — but there are some insurance providers that do have a restricted list of breeds.

    This means they'll have a list of certain breeds that they exclude from policy coverage for you. But these exclusions are really in the context of pets, not necessarily animals. I'm going to help explain how you can sort of figure out and surface that with your insurance agent if you have questions. So if you have an insurance policy that has breed restrictions, and you're using that to generally deny certain breeds, well, that's most certainly your prerogative.

    But if someone comes along and they're making an accommodation request and they have a type of breed that is in this particular exclusion to unilaterally say, “Sorry, we are going to deny you because in print it produces a financial hardship on our owner because if something happened our owner — who we work for — wouldn't have coverage because this breed is excluded.” and that financial hardship is the reason you're using to turn down the accommodation request, well that is a slippery slope. Now, it is true that financial hardship could be a type of reason to deny an accommodation request. But on this particular type of reason, you want to be very careful on how you approach it."

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