U.S. insurers see spike in dog bite claims

Posted May 20, 2014 by Martin Laine
Dog bite claims in the U.S. increased by 5.5 percent last year, costing the insurance industry more than $483 million. California and New York led the country in both the number of claims and the average cost of the settlement.
The surviving dogs found at Green Acre Boarding House after at least 20 dogs died due to heat exhaus...
The surviving dogs found at Green Acre Boarding House after at least 20 dogs died due to heat exhaustion.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
According to an article on the Insurance Journal website, the statistics were contained in an annual report issued last week by the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm Insurance, the largest underwriter of homeowners insurance in the country.
The report was issued in advance of this week’s designation as National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a public service campaign sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Humane Society of the United States.
The Postal Service website reports that small children, the elderly, and mail carriers are the most frequent victims. According to an article on the Bloomberg news website, 5,581 postal service employees were attacked by dogs last year.
The statistics include non-bite injuries such as scratching, tripping, knocking down and frightening someone.
California had the greatest number of claims with 1,919 at an average cost of $33,709 per claim. New York ranked second in the number of claims with 965, but first in the highest average settlement at $43,122. The 2013 statistics continue a trend that has been rising steadily over the past 10 years.
“The average cost per claim has risen more than 45 percent in the last decade due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgements and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the III.