Dogs and Insurance

Courtesy of http://www.iii.org/issue-update/dog-bite-liability. About 77.8 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States according to a 2015/2016 survey from by the American Pet Products Association.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and about 885,000 require medical attention for these injuries; about half of these are children.

Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls. Others decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed has been deemed vicious.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

  • Claims: Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing more than $570 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®. An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that while the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased 7.2 percent in 2015, the average cost per claim for the year was up 16 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $37,214 in 2015, compared with $32,072 in 2014. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 94 percent from 2003 to 2015, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing. California continued to have the largest number of claims in the U.S. at 1,684. Illinois had the second highest number of claims at 931. Arizona had the ninth largest number of claims at 393, but it registered the highest average cost per claim of the 10 states with the most claims: a staggering $56,654. The trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., which can result in injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses.