On a Leash: Dog Bite Insurance Claim Trends

May 15, 2013

Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million, according to the industry’s Insurance Information Institute (III) and insurer State Farm.

While the number of claims fell by 1.4 percent in 2012—the first decline since 2010—the costs of settling dog bite claims continued to rise, by 1.2 percent, last year, according to an analysis of homeowners insurance data by the III.

The average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $29,752 in 2012 compared to $29,396 in 2011.

State Farm identified the top 10 states for dog bite claims paid with California and Illinois leading the pack. (See list below.)

The III said that the decline in the number of claims and increase in claim costs essentially offset one another so that total costs associated with dog bite claims in 2012 were virtually unchanged—down a mere 0.2 percent in 2012, the group said.

The rise in claims costs by even a small amount suggests that medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs are still on the upswing, according to the III.

ESTIMATED NUMBER AND COST OF DOG BITE CLAIMS, 2003-2012

Year Value of claims ($ millions) Number of claims Average cost per claim
2003

$324.2

16,919

$19,162

2004

319.0

15,630

20,406

2005

321.1

14,295

22,464

2006

322.3

14,661

21,987

2007

356.2

14,531

24,511

2008

387.2

15,823

24,461

2009

412.0

16,586

24,840

2010

412.6

15,770

26,166

2011

490.8

16,695

29,396

2012

489.7

16,459

29,752

Percent change, 2011-2012

-0.2%

-1.4%

1.2%

Percent change, 2003-2012

51.4%

-1.6%

55.3%

Source: Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.

State Farm identified the top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2012.

Top 10 States for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2012

State Number of claims Claims paid (estimated)
1. California 451 $17.1 million
2. Illinois 337 $9.0 million
3. Texas 236 $4.3 million
4. Ohio 235 $5.0 million
5. Pennsylvania 165 $4.5 million
6. Michigan 151 $4.6 million
7. Indiana 148 $2.7 million
8. Florida 123 $7.1 million
9. Georgia 121 $3.3 million
10. New York 116 $6.4 million

Latest Comments

  • May 17, 2013 at 7:52 am
    jw says:
    I'm also curious about denied claims because the dog was an excluded breed. Did excluding breeds reduce the claim expense or not?
  • May 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm
    Compman says:
    yuummmm. Sandwich.
  • May 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm
    Agent says:
    I don't watch it, but know people that are addicted to it. They also may be addicted to Dancing with the Stars or Bachelor or Bachelorette. Perhaps it is escapism from reali... read more
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