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Dog Bites

Key Facts

  • Most insurance companies insure homeowners/renters with dogs. Some companies exclude certain breeds from coverage while many focus on the individual dog's behavior.
  • If a dog bites someone, most insurers recognize it as an increased risk and may charge you a higher premium, suggest the homeowner find the dog a new home, non-renew the policy or exclude the dog from coverage.
  • Dogs left alone are more likely to become territorial and pose a higher risk of biting someone. More than 50 percent of dog bites occur on the dog owner's property.
  • Since the late 1990s, nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually, half of those being children, resulting in an estimated 885,000 injuries, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Dog bites cost insurers $83 million in 2013. Data from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) found that dog bite claims nationwide increased 5.5 percent in 2013, while the average cost per claim dropped 6.4 percent from $29,752 in 2012 to $27,862 in 2013.
  • From 2003 to 2013, the average cost of a dog bite claim increased by 45.4 percent.
  • The number of claims paid by insurers has remained relatively stable over the past three years at 16,685 in 2011, 16,459 in 2012 and 17,359 in 2013.
  • In 2013, dog bite claims accounted for one-third of all homeowner's liability insurance claims, according to I.I.I.
  • Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability. Most policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. If the claim exceeds the limit of the policy, the dog owner is responsible for all damages above that amount, including legal expenses.
  • Larger dogs are moving up in the top 10 list of most popular dogs to own, according to the American Kennel Club. In 2013, Rottweilers climbed to number 9.

Prevention Tips

  • Have the dog spayed or neutered. Studies show dogs are three times more likely to bite if they are not neutered.
  • Socialize your dog so that it knows how to act around other people and animals.
  • Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Play non-aggressive games with dogs such as "go fetch." Games like "tug-of- war" can encourage inappropriate behavior.
  • Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.

Other Resources
Insurance Information Institute
National Center for Injury and Control
American Kennel Club