HomeInsuranceSununu calls NH 'most pet friendly' state as he signs legislation

Sununu calls NH ‘most pet friendly’ state as he signs legislation

Jul. 28—CONCORD — Declaring New Hampshire the “most pet-friendly state in the country,” Gov. Chris Sununu signed Friday a two-prong bill (HB 249) to set model standards for the selling of pet insurance legislation and let restaurant owners have a companion dog on the premises.

Sununu also made state law a permissive bill so emergency medical technicians could deliver injured police dogs to veterinary hospitals in their ambulances (SB 268).

“Pets become family,” said Sununu said of the pet insurance measure.

“This law will provide Granite Staters with peace of mind and opportunity to ensure their pets can receive the best care possible. New Hampshire is continuing to fulfill our promise of being the most pet-friendly state in the country.”

Reps. Jess Edwards, R-Auburn, and Anita Burroughs, D-Glen, co-sponsored this bipartisan bill that has New Hampshire join 13 states to adopt a model act for pet insurance the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) drafted with support of the industry.

“Once a policy has been put into effect, this bill would ensure consumers are given the guarantee that benefits are calculated in a fair way,” Edwards told the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing last spring.

Cari Lee is director of government affairs and public policy with the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

“This bill is good for consumers because it mandates robust consumer disclosures — especially in a growing market, we believe it is important that all consumers receive comprehensive and clear disclosures, so they are provided with the information they need to understand what they are buying no matter which company they purchase from,” Lee said.

D.J. Bettencourt, deputy insurance commissioner said the Veterinarian Pet Insurance Company in 1982 wrote the first policy in the U.S. for Lassie, the lovable and courageous collie who starred in a TV show.

By the end of 2021, the industry had exceeded $2.8 billion in premiums, he said.

Pet insurance doubled in past five years

This business doubled from 2018-22 with more than 4.4 million pets insured across the country.

“Since pets are treated as property, they are considered a property and casualty product,” Bettencourt said.

This law will standardize definitions of coverage, policy conditions, best practices for training and violations, Bettencourt said.

Elliot Axelman of Hooksett, a past GOP candidate for representative, had opposed the bill on philosophical grounds.

“The government should have no involvement in the free market and certainly should not regulate the pet insurance market,” Axelman said.

The owner of a bed and breakfast asked lawmakers for the second part of this bill after he could not to have animals in the business foyer because it was a shared space.

Dogs are allowed in the restaurant except in the food preparation area of the business.

Bettencourt said the Legislature in 2016 allowed dogs to have similar access, but lawmakers mistakenly struck that section of the law off the books last year.

Lawmakers named the police dog legislation “Max’s Law” in honor of a Portsmouth police canine killed in a training accident.

“Just like the individuals they serve alongside, New Hampshire is standing up to provide for K9 members of law enforcement, search and rescue, and military operations,” Sununu said.

“They put their lives on the line each day for the protection of our communities, and in return, we’re taking action to ensure every resource is available for their health and safety.”


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