Far Out Friday: Dog bite claims take a chunk out of insurers’ budgets

Far Out Friday: Dog bite claims take a chunk out of insurers’ budgets | Insurance Business

Far Out Friday: Dog bite claims take a chunk out of insurers’ budgets
They are considered man’s best friend by some, but they can also be a deadly – and expensive – nuisance to others.

A new report jointly released by US insurance company State Farm and the Insurance Information Institute revealed that dog bite liabilities in the US cost insurers a staggering US$483 million.

The cost of dog bite claims has risen by 45% in the last decade, with around 4.5 million Americans being bitten by dogs in the US last year.

Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, told the LA Times the liability to insurers has gone up 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."

California, the nation's most-populous state, led the way with 449 dog bite claims costing $14.7 million in payouts. The next four on the list in order were Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.

In 2013, State Farm alone paid $104 million as a result of 3,700 dog bite claims. Over the past five years, the insurer has paid $510 million for claims resulting from accidents involving a dog. Many of these accidents could have been prevented.

Internationally renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell told CBS Detroit the most effective way to prevent dog bites was not to ban certain breeds of dog but by “raising awareness of canine behaviour through education, as well as encouraging responsible dog ownership."

Meanwhile some insurers are taking steps to limit their exposure to such losses.

Some companies require dog owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, while others charge more for owners of breeds such as pit bulls and Rottweilers and others are not offering insurance to dog owners at all.

Some will cover a pet if the owner takes the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior or if the dog is restrained with a muzzle, chain or cage.