Dog bites accounted for more than a third of home insurance liability claims paid out in 2010 and cost almost $413 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Although the total number of claims dropped last year by 4.9 percent from 2009, the average cost of claims rose by 5.3 percent. Home and renters insurance policyholders filed 15,770 dog bite claims in 2010, compared to 16,586 in 2009. The average cost of a dog bite claim was $26,166 last year, up from $24,840 in 2009, and almost 37 percent higher than in 2003, according to an I.I.I. analysis of home insurance data.
What home insurance covers when dogs bite
Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability. Most standard homeowners policies provide anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage, according to I.I.I. The dog owner is responsible for damages above those limits, including legal expenses. A liability policy also provides no-fault medical coverage if a dog bites a friend or neighbor.
Although most insurance companies insure homeowners and renters with dogs, they may charge a higher premium or exclude a dog from coverage once a dog has bitten someone.
States with greatest number of dog bite claims
In recognition of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 15 to 21, State Farm released a list of the top 10 states for dog bite claims filed with the company.
The states with the highest number of State Farm dog bite claims were:
- New York
State Farm says it does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog a customer owns but does require home insurance applicants to answer questions about their dogs' histories.