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Dog bites are a top homeowner policy claim

We love our pets, but our pets do not always love other people. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm insurance, one third of all homeowner liability claims involve dog bites and dog-related injuries. Industry experts believe that this ends up costing insurers about $700 million annually.

The numbers are going up

The III added that the number of claims was up slightly in 2017, going from 18,122 in 2016 to 18,522 in 2017 (which is the most recent year with comprehensive data). The cost of claims has also gone up from $33,320 in 2016 to $37,051 in 2017. The overall cost of dog bites has gone up nationally by 90 percent since 2003. This is due to the severity of the injury and the size of the settlements, judgments and jury awards.

The number of dog bites severe enough to need medical treatment in the U.S. is about 800,000 annually. Of those, 17 attacks were fatal. Moreover, dogs bite 50 percent of children 13 and under.

Why dogs bite

According to experts, common reasons for dog bites include the following:

  • Dominance aggression: This involves making dogs do things, like pushing them off the couch.
  • Protecting valuables: This can include anything from a dog toy to the home and property.
  • Fear aggression: Dogs will lash out when they are afraid.
  • Redirected aggression: People who try to break up a dogfight will often get bit.
  • Maternal aggression: Even well-trained dogs can show signs of maternal aggression with new puppies.
  • Pestering: Kids in particular may not read the signs that they are pestering a dog.
  • Pain-induced: The animal may lash out if it is hurt.

Victims and defendants often need legal guidance

Carriers will have attorneys on retainer, so it is wise to consult with an attorney if there is an insurance dispute over coverage or the amount awarded. These lawyers can guide those involved, particularly if there is the potential for litigation.