Fewer people filed dog-bite liability claims on their home insurance policies in 2012 than the previous year, but the average claim cost rose slightly, according to an analysis
by the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm.
Home insurance includes liability coverage to protect policyholders and their family members from lawsuits for injuries or damage they or their pets cause to others.
Dog bites cost insurers more than $489 million and accounted for more than one-third of all home insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, III and State Farm said. The average cost per dog bite claim was $29,752 in 2012, up from $29,396 in 2011. The number of dog-bite claims dropped by 1.4 percent to 16,459 in 2012 from 16,695 in 2011.
Dog-bite claim costs have grown dramatically since 2003. The amount paid out for dog-bite claims jumped 51 percent, and the average cost per claim increased 55 percent from 2003 to 2012.
State laws on dog-bite liability vary. Dog owners in some states are legally liable for deaths or injuries caused by their dogs. Pennsylvania and Michigan prohibit insurers from canceling or denying coverage to the owners of particular dog breeds. Many local governments around the country have banned specific breeds, such as pit bulls, but several states bar cities and counties from targeting individual breeds.