New York State Seal
STATE OF NEW YORK
INSURANCE DEPARTMENT
25 BEAVER STREET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10004

The Office of General Counsel issued the following informal opinion on August 29, 2001, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

RE: Animal Insurance

Questions Presented:

1) Is animal insurance considered property/casualty insurance?

2) Does animal insurance constitute "personal lines insurance" as that term is used in N.Y. Ins. Law § 3425 (McKinney 2000), and therefore subject to § 3425, or commercial risk insurance, which is subject to N.Y. Ins. Law § 3426 (McKinney 2000)?

3) When must a claim be filed under an animal insurance policy?

Conclusions:

1) N.Y. Ins. Law § 1113 (McKinney 2000) defines the kinds of insurance that are authorized in New York: it does not provide a definition for "property/casualty insurance". However, animal insurance is a kind of authorized insurance pursuant to N.Y. Ins. Law § 1113(a)(11) (McKinney 2000). Additionally, N.Y. Ins. Law § 107(a)(36) (McKinney 2000) defines a "property/casualty insurance company" as "any company having power to write any one or more of the basic kinds of insurance specified in subsection (a) of section 4101 of this chapter." Among the basic kinds of insurance listed in N.Y. Ins. Law § 4101(a) (McKinney 2000) is animal insurance.

2) Whether an animal insurance policy is to be classified as "personal lines insurance" as that term is used in N.Y. Ins. Law § 3425 (McKinney 2000), or as "commercial risk insurance", which is defined in N.Y. Ins. Law § 107(a)(47) (McKinney 2000) and is one of the types of coverage that is subject to N.Y. Ins. Law § 3426 (McKinney 2000), is dependent upon several factors, including whether the insured animal is used in the conduct of a business.

3) The applicable time frame for filing a claim under an animal insurance policy is the time frame stated in the policy.

Facts:

A representative of an authorized insurer in New York stated that such insurer has had its animal insurance policy approved by the Department. The representative stated that such policy requires claimants to submit their claim forms documenting incurred veterinary expenses within 180 days of the treatment date of the insured animal. The representative stated that a policyholder disputes certain provisions contained in the animal insurance policy. The representative seeks clarification of how the Insurance Law applies to such provisions.

Analysis:

N.Y. Ins. Law § 1113 (McKinney 2000) defines the kinds of insurance that are authorized in New York: it does not provide a definition for "property/casualty insurance". However, animal insurance is a kind of authorized insurance pursuant to N.Y. Ins. Law § 1113(a)(11) (McKinney 2000), which states in relevant part:

(a) The kinds of insurance which may be authorized in this state, subject to other provisions of this chapter, and their scope, are set forth in the following paragraphs….

* * * *

(11) "Animal insurance," means insurance against loss of or damage to any domesticated or wild animal resulting from any cause.

While the Insurance Law does not provide a definition for "property/casualty insurance", N.Y. Ins. Law § 107(a)(36) (McKinney 2000) defines a "property/casualty insurance company" as "any company having power to write any one or more of the kinds of insurance specified in subsection (a) of section 4101 of this chapter." Among the basic kinds of insurance listed in N.Y. Ins. Law § 4101(a) (McKinney 2000) is animal insurance:

§ 4101 Definitions

In this article:

(a) "Basic kinds of insurance" means the kinds of insurance described in the following paragraphs of subsection (a) of section one thousand one hundred thirteen of this chapter numbered therein as set forth in parentheses below:…animal (11);….

N.Y. Ins. Law § 4102 (McKinney 2000) describes the powers of a property/casualty insurance company:

§ 4102 Powers

(a) A property/casualty insurance company may be organized and licensed to write any one or more basic kinds of insurance.

Generally speaking, animals are considered personal property. Thus, Article 34 of the Insurance Law, which applies to contracts of property and casualty insurance, applies to animal insurance.

Whether an animal insurance policy is to be classified as "personal lines insurance" as that term is used in N.Y. Ins. Law § 3425 (McKinney 2000), or as commercial risk insurance, which is subject to N.Y. Ins. Law § 3426 (McKinney 2000) is dependent upon several factors, including whether the insured animal is used in the conduct of a business. N.Y. Ins. Law § 3425 (a)(2)(B) (McKinney 2000) (emphasis added) states:

(a) This section shall apply to covered policies of insurance as defined in paragraphs one, two, and three hereof.

* * * *

(2) "Covered policy" also means a contract of insurance, referred to in this section as "personal lines insurance", other than a contract of insurance defined in paragraph one hereof, issued or issued for delivery in this state, on a risk located or resident in this state, insuring any of the following contingencies:

* * * *

(B) loss of or damage to pesonal property in which natural persons have an insurable interest, except personal property used in the conduct of a business;….

A policy that provides insurance for personal property that is used in the conduct of a business is classified as commercial risk insurance and is subject to N.Y. Ins. Law § 3426 (McKinney 2000). N.Y. Ins. Law §§ 107(a)(47)(B) and 3426(a)(1) (McKinney 2000) state:

§ 107 Definitions of terms of general use in this chapter

(a) In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

* * * *

(47) "Commercial risk insurance" means insurance not subject to section three thousand four hundred twenty-five of this chapter issued or issued for delivery in this state, on a risk located in this state, insuring any of the following contingencies:

* * * *

(B) loss of or damage to personal property;

* * * *

§ 3426 Commercial lines insurance; cancellation and renewal provisions

(a) Definitions. As used in this section:

(1) "Covered policy" means, for purposes of this section, a policy of commercial risk insurance, professional liability insurance or public entity insurance, and shall include any contract, certificate or other evidence of such insurance.

With respect to the inquiry regarding the timing of a claim filing, the Insurance Law does not set forth a minimum time frame upon which a claim must be filed for animal insurance. Therefore, the applicable time frame for filing a claim under an animal insurance policy is the time frame stated in the policy.

For further information you may contact Senior Attorney Sally Geisel at the New York City Office.