2014

National Dog Bite Prevention Week Is May 18-24; Average Number Of Dog Bite Claims Is On The Rise Nationwide California Has Largest Number of Claims; New York Has Highest Cost per Claim, Study Finds

NEW YORK, May 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2013, costing more than $483 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased 5.5 percent in 2013, while the average cost per claim for the year dropped 6.4 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $27,862 in 2013 compared with $29,752 in 2012.

The increase in the number of claims may be attributable to non-bite injuries that are being captured in the analysis, which can include scratching, tripping, knocking down or frightening a person, the I.I.I. noted. These types of claims are typically less costly than dog bites which may require reconstructive surgery.

"The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 45 percent in the last decade (2003-2013), 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," said Loretta Worters, vice president with the I.I.I.

The study noted that California had the largest number of claims at 1,919 with an average cost per claim of $33,709. New York had the second highest number of claims at 965, but had the highest average cost per claim: $43,122.

ESTIMATED NUMBER AND COST OF DOG BITE CLAIMS NATIONWIDE, 2003-2013

Year

Value of claims
($ millions)

Number of claims

Average cost per claim

2003

$324.2

16,919

$19,162

2004

318.9

15,630

20,406

2005

321.1

14,295

22,464

2006

322.4

14,661

21,987

2007

356.2

14,531

24,511

2008

387.0

15,823

24,461

2009

412.0

16,586

24,840

2010

412.6

15,770

26,166

2011

490.8

16,695

29,396

2012

489.7

16,459

29,752

2013

483.7

17,359

27,862

Percent change, 2012-2013

-1.2%

5.5%

-6.4%

Percent change, 2003-2013

49.2

2.6

45.4

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm®.

TOP 10 STATES WITH ESTIMATED NUMBER AND COST OF DOG BITE CLAIMS, 2013

State

Number of claims

Average cost per claim

Value of claims ($ millions)

CA

1,919

$33,709

$64.7

NY

965

43,122

41.6

OH

948

18,853

17.9

IL

914

28,941

26.5

PA

909

29,078

26.4

MI

866

24,700

21.4

TX

775

19,339

15.0

IN

503

25,502

12.8

AZ

488

27,556

13.4

WI

449

31,629

14.2

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm®.

Be a Responsible Dog Owner
Even normally docile dogs may bite when they are frightened or when defending their puppies, owners or food. However, the best way to protect yourself is to prevent your dog from biting anyone in the first place. The most dangerous dogs are those that fall victim to human shortcomings such as poor training, irresponsible ownership and breeding practices that foster viciousness.

"All dogs have the potential to bite, but for most, biting is a last resort," said Victoria Stilwell, star of Animal Planet's hit TV series It's Me or the Dog. "If time is taken to raise, teach and socialize a dog correctly, the likelihood of a bite incident occurring is extremely low, explained Stilwell, a passionate advocate for positive reinforcement training methods. "Confident dogs have less need to use aggressive behavior."  

National Dog Bite Prevention Week® (May 18-24, 2014), is an annual event designed to provide consumers with information on how to be responsible pet owners while increasing awareness of a serious public health issue.

To reduce the chances of your dog biting someone, consider taking the following steps:

  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. A dog with a history of aggression is inappropriate in a household with children.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful of or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
  • Socialize your dog so it knows how to act with other people and animals.
  • Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as "go fetch." Playing aggressive games like "tug-of-war" can encourage inappropriate behavior.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response.
  • Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
  • Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders if your dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

The following organizations are committed to educating Americans about dog bite prevention:

RELATED LINKS
Issues Update: Dog Bite Liability
Video: Preventing Dog Bites

The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its You Tube Channel. Information about I.I.I. mobile apps can be found here.

THE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY.

Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org

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SOURCE Insurance Information Institute



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