This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, so it is important to note that the cost of dog-bite claims for U.S. insurers reached 16 percent last year due to higher medical expenses and larger settlements to resolve court disputes.
The average claim increased to $37,214 in 2015 from $32,072 a year earlier, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The highest figure among the 10 states with the most claims was Arizona with an average of $56,654. California has the second highest average cost per dog bite claim at $44,983 while New York, at $44,320, comes in third.
Health officials and companies such as State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. are seeking to limit the confrontations, which accounted for more than one-third of homeowners liability claims costs last year, the institute said.
About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and almost a fifth of those incidents require medical attention, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of claims fell 7.2 percent last year to 15,352. Still, dog-related injuries cost the industry $571.3 million, up from $530.8 million. The average cost per claim nationally has risen 94 percent since 2003.
With strict liability laws set in place, a dog owner is responsible for the actions of their dog, regardless of the breed or the circumstances surrounding an attack. With that said, dogs can have vicious outbursts at any time, despite how calm or gentle their usual temperament is. All dogs can behave differently around strangers, which can be surprising to their owners. If your dog suddenly attacks a stranger, as the owner, you could be liable for any injuries or damages.
There is a lot of responsibility placed on a dog’s owner, so care and caution is so important. In order to reduce the chance of a dog attack:
- Remember that a dog’s behavior can be unpredictable, no matter how well you know your dog.
- When you answer the door, make sure you hold your dog back.
- Separate your dogs from strangers, like postal workers, maintenance men, etc. when they are in your home or at your door.
- Keep dogs away from strangers and be cautious when around other dogs.