Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013, costing more than $483 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm, the nation’s largest writer of homeowners insurance.
The industry research organization reported that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased 5.5 percent in 2013, while the average cost per claim for the year dropped 6.4 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $27,862 in 2013 compared with $29,752 in 2012.
The increase in claims may be attributable to non-bite injuries that are being captured in the analysis, which can include scratching, tripping, knocking down or frightening a person, the III noted. These types of claims are typically less costly than dog bites that may require reconstructive surgery.
“The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 45 percent in the last decade (2003-2013), 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,” said Loretta Worters, vice president with the III.
The study noted that California had the largest number of claims at 1,919 with an average cost per claim of $33,709. New York had the second highest number of claims at 965, but had the highest average cost per claim: $43,122.