It turns out that not only dog biting is common towards just the mailman. Dogs are biting a whole lot of other people, too. And, more than ever, their owners are being made to pay for their dogs’ indiscretions.
Dog bite claims against consumers’ homeowners insurance policies rose by 5.5 percent last year to a record 17,359. Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of liability claims, accounting for a whopping $483 million in payouts, a study by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance found. The average cost per claim was nearly $28,000. California had the most claims, but New York’s cost the most, at more than $43,000 on average, the institute said.
Still, most people don’t make claims after a dog bite. The institute, the education arm of the insurance industry, cited statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noting that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of those 885,000 require medical care.
States Have Different Rules
The American Pet Products Association says there are more than 83 million dogs in U.S. households. Depending on what type of dog you have, that chance of biting can cost you, even if you pooch has never bitten a soul and never will. Owning pit bulls and other certain other breeds are commonly seen as dangerous or vicious. This is just as true for dogs who have more bite than bark. In both cases, this can prevent homeowners from even getting insurance, according to the institute. The group said Pennsylvania and Michigan specifically prevent insurers from denying policies based on dog breed, and Ohio requires owners of certain breeds to have liability insurance.
Depending on where you live, laws about your liability for a dog bite can very. The institute notes that in some places, any time your dog bites someone without provocation you’re legally responsible. In other locations, liability depends on whether you had a reason to know the dog was likely to bite (due to breed or past behavior) or you were negligent in how you failed to control the dog. Fear biting in dogs is a common issue and can be addressed by a professional dog training at home.
The institute also notes that increasing loses to dog bite claims means some insurers are making dog owners sign liability waivers. Doing so, relieves the insurers of responsibility if a dog bites someone.
As for the mailman, recent reporting by the Postal Service shows that dog biting affected 5,581 mail carriers last year.