Dog Bite Claims Increase

It turns out that not only are dogs biting the mailman — they’re 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.