Thursday, July 18, 2013

Preemption and Insurance

Dear Governor Chafee,

Thank you for your careful consideration of our recent letter, in which we requested your veto of HB5671.

New information regarding BSL preemption has become available and may help inform your decision.

The information appears in the July-August edition of Animal People. The article reports on public opinion polls regarding pit bulls and Breed Specific Legislation (BSL); the information generally indicates public approval of careful regulation of pit bulls.

The article then goes on to discuss insurance payouts in states which have preempted BSL:
Fifteen states now ban breed-specific ordinances, including California, Illinois, Texas, and Ohio.

State Farm Insurance on May 17, 2013 disclosed that California, Illinois, Texas, and Ohio rated first through fourth in insurance claims paid for dog attacks in 2011. State Farm paid $20.3 million to 527 victims in California, $10 million to 309 victims in Illinois, $5.1 million to 219 victims in Texas, and $5.4 million to 215 victims in Ohio. The numbers of victims in California were 30% greater in 2011 than in 2010. The payout in California increased 31%, State Farm spokesperson Eddie Martinez told Sue Manning of Associated Press. A rival firm, Farmers Group Inc., in February 2013 notified shareholders that it would no longer insure pit bulls, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids under homeowners and renters policies in California.

Nationally, said Insurance Information Institute representative Loretta Worters, the insurance industry paid dog attack victims $479 million in 2011, up 15% from $413 million in 2010, and up by more than half since 2006.

The numbers of attacks and amounts of payout increased twice as fast in states that prohibit breed-specific ordinances.

~~ Laws pre-empting breed-specific ordinances pass -- but polls tilt the other way
Thank you for including this information in your consideration of this important matter.

All best wishes to you and to the people of Rhode Island,
The Editors

* * * * *

Still no word from Chafee on pit bull legislation,
   The Valley Breeze, July 16, 2013
Senate passes ban on breed-specific ordinances,
   The Valley Breeze, July 2, 2013
Local ACOs oppose removal of ban on pit bulls,
   The Call, June 27, 2013
Pit bulls maul woman; Governor calls for new legislation,
   AP, Jan 18, 1990

Related Material:
Overview of "breed specific" laws, Kenneth Phillips, Dog Bite Law

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks