Dog bite injuries are becoming increasingly costly to property/casualty insurers, according the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.
The I.I.I.’s analysis of homeowners insurance data determined that liability claim dollars paid out in the U.S. due to dog bite injuries jumped more than 15 percent in 2014. What’s more, dog bites and dog-related injuries led more than $530 million in claim dollars paid out during the year.
That’s more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out during the 12-month period.
While dog bite claims dipped nationally by 4.7 percent in 2014, the average cost per claim climbed 15 percent for the year, according to the I.I.I. analysis of homeowners insurance data. Translated, insurers made an average payout nationally of $32,072 in 2014 for dog bites and related injuries. In 2013, the average cost paid out was $27,862.
The dog bite claims cost has risen steadily for more than a decade. From 2013 to 2014, the average cost per claim nationally jumped more than 67 percent, the I.I.I. said.
What’s driving the increase? Everything from higher medical costs to the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to plaintiffs, I.I.I. Vice President Loretta Worters said in prepared remarks.
As well, dogs knocking down children, cyclists and the elderly led to higher expense, I.I.I. said, because the actions can cause fractures and other blunt force trauma that escalates claims costs.
The analysis recommends a number of steps to reduce dog biting risks, including doing research to pick a neighborhood-friendly dog, spending time with a pet before adopting it and socializing the animal so it knows how to behave with other animals and people.
Here are some additional findings from the I.I.I./State Farm report:
- California had the largest number of dog bit claims in the U.S. in 2014, at 1,867. The average cost per claim came in at $33,649, with total claim value of $62.8 million.
- Ohio placed second, with 1,009 claims worth an average $21,983 a piece. Total claim value: $22.2 million.
- New York placed third with 965 claims in 2014, but the average cost per claim was the highest, at $56,628. Total claim value in the state: $51.5 million.
Source: Insurance Information Institute