Most of us adore dogs; we enjoy it when our furry pet rests in our lap while we're watching TV, or reading. But, here's the honest truth: Dogs bite--often severe enough to require medical attention. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control reports millions of people are bitten by dogs every year, with over 400,000 requiring medical attention. More than half of dog bite victims are children. So let's take a look at the insurance side of dog injuries.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites continue to represent more than one-third of the payout dollars for homeowner liability claims! In 2020, insurance companies paid over $854 million for such claims, with approximately 16,991 claims filed. The average cost per claim was $50,425. In fact, the average cost per claim nationally has risen 162 percent from 2003 to 2020, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upwards. As you can see, dog ownership can be a HUGE exposure!
If you're a homeowner with a dog, carefully examine your homeowners policy, or call your agent. (And we hope that agent is us!) Some policies exclude coverage for injuries caused by certain aggressive breeds; and if your dog has injured a third party in the past, your homeowners underwriter might very well endorse your policy excluding any additional injuries caused by your dog. Finally, if you own a dog, but haven't told your agent this fact, you can bet he or she definitely wants to know that tidbit! Disclose dog ownership to your agent.
If you own an aggressive dog, take every precaution to ensure your pet is restrained, such as a fenced yard, or that the animal is on a leash or chain at all times when it's outdoors. And if you come across an adorable cute dog taking a walk with its owner, always ask the owner's permission before you pet the animal. Let a strange dog get a good sniff of you before you touch it, and never stick your face next to a strange dog's face! Always pet an unfamiliar dog on its neck or shoulders; don't touch its face or tail.
Even if you own a non-aggressive dog that loves everyone, ALL dogs bite if they feel frightened or threatened. Enjoy your furry friend, but enjoy your pet responsibly!