Discriminatory Insurance Companies Are Using Pets As Marketing Ploys

31
July 2019
Today is National Mutt Day and companies that discriminate against dog owners are using it as a marketing ploy. We know that lots of companies use days like this as marketing ploys. That’s good business. We can’t say anything against that. Everyone loves dogs and everyone loves to celebrate them.

The issue is when discriminatory companies use things like National Mutt Day to pass themselves off as inclusive. We’ve seen posts from homeowner’s insurance companies and their pet insurance subsidiaries. While their pet insurance arm doesn’t discriminate against dog owners with specific breeds or breed mixes, their homeowner’s insurance company does.

In 2017, Nationwide rescinded a woman’s homeowner’s insurance policy because they believed she lied about the breed mix of one of her dogs. How did they discover it? They had an agent search her social media accounts. The agent visually identified one of her dogs as a Rottweiler.

While social media posts are public and there’s nothing illegal about Nationwide scouring your Facebook page to find a reason not to insure you, it’s bad form, sneaky, and just plain gross.

We know that breed-specific restrictions have their roots in classism and racism, and whether or not these companies realize it, they are continuing to feed into stereotypes that keep dogs and people apart.

We spoke with Shannon Glenn, Executive Director of My Pit Bull Is Family, who helps dog owners of all income levels find pet-owner accessible housing. She said: 

“The discrimination these families face isn’t just because of their dog. Often discrimination is rooted in race and class along with the type of dog someone has. It’s a conversation that’s always on our minds and we’re here to have it.

My background is in human and social services working with folks experiencing homelessness and most recently managing the only pet-friendly homeless shelter in the state of Minnesota.

Owning a dog shouldn’t be a sign of what class you belong to – dog ownership and that companionship should be available to anyone who wishes to have one. It’s an overall human issue – and we need to have more conversations about it.”

That’s why it’s important for us to recognize these things can call them out when we see them.

That’s also why it’s important for you to do some research before you sign your pet up for insurance with a company whose other ventures work to separate families and increase the number of pets in shelters. Do the same due diligence before you share a cute Facebook post by one of these companies.

Companies that don’t support all responsible dog owners shouldn’t get to pretend that they do.

We’re working to improve the housing crisis by supporting initiatives that increase pet-owner accessible housing. If your organization is working toward this, either nationally or in your own community, you can apply for our Pet-Owner Accessible Housing Grant.

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