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Dog bites cost insurers almost half-a-billion dollars in 2013
By Insure.com staff

More than one-third of the money home insurance companies paid out for liability claims in 2013 was for injuries caused by dogs, costing insurers more than $483 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm, the largest U.S. home insurance provider.

The number of dog bite claims increased 5.5 percent in 2013 over 2012 while the cost per claim dropped 6.4 percent, the III reported. The average cost of a dog bite claim nationwide was $27,862 in 2013, compared to $29,752 in 2012.

A possible explanation for the increase in claims and drop in average claim cost is that the 2013 analysis includes non-bite injuries caused by dogs, including scratching, tripping, knocking down or frightening a person, the III said. These types of claims are typically less costly than dog bites, which sometimes require reconstructive surgery.
Over the last decade, though, the average cost per claim has risen more than 45 percent. That's due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, III Vice President Loretta Worters said in a press statement.

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 of $43,122.

Other states in the top 10 for the number of claims in 2013 are:

  • Ohio -- 965 claims; average cost per claim: $18,853
  • Illinois -- 914 claims; average cost per claim: $28.941
  • Pennsylvania -- 909 claims; average cost per claim: $29,078
  • Michigan -- 866 claims; average cost per claim: $24,700
  • Texas -- 775 claims; average cost per claim: $19,339
  • Indiana -- 503 claims; average cost per claim: $25,502
  • Arizona -- 488 claims; average cost per claim: $27,556
  • Wisconsin -- 449 claims; average cost per claim: $31,629

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