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Down, Boy! Homeowners Insurance Claims for Dog Bites Rose 18 Percent in 2016

Though your precious pooch may be "all bark, no bite," that’s not the case for every canine you’ll come across. The Insurance Information Institute (III) released a batch of 2016 data in honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week that may surprise dog lovers everywhere.

According to the report, dog bites (and other dog-related injuries) made up more than one-third of homeowners liability claim dollars paid out in 2016. The number of claims jumped by 18 percent between 2015 to 2016, from 15,352 up to 18,123.

Want to learn more about this report, plus pick up some tips for minimizing the chance that you’ll have to file a claim on behalf of Fido? Keep reading, and make sure your homeowners insurance policy has your back in case things don’t go exactly as planned.

The Cost of a Dog Bite

While the number of dog-related claims rose in 2016, the average cost per claim decreased between 2015 and 2016—dropping from $37,214 to $33,230. This likely indicates that while there were more injuries, they were less severe.

But, as a vice president with the III points out: "The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 70 percent from 2003 to 2016, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs."

As Nolo writes, if your dog injures another person, you could be responsible for:

Practicing Good Dog Etiquette

When people see a dog in public, they often feel entitled to pet it. Sometimes, they move toward the dog without even asking the owner if it’s safe and appropriate to touch the dog. And since dogs can’t speak for themselves, they may lash out instead.

Let’s say you’re taking your four-legged friend for a stroll when a passerby leans in unexpectedly, hand outstretched for a quick scratch behind the ears. Or even more boldly, they put their face near your dog’s face without double-checking first. Situations like these could end badly, even with a usually laidback animal!

Dogs in Need of Space, or DINOS, recommends following these guidelines to encourage a culture of safe and respectful dog ownership:

As the proud owner of a furry friend, you can also enroll in behavioral classes and focus on reinforcing positive behaviors. Make sure guests are safe and comfortable around your pet in your home, and don’t be afraid to ask strangers to give your dog space in public. This way, you can avoid the guilt and complications that accompany a costly dog bite claim.

Owning a dog makes having homeowners insurance more important than ever, as it covers the liability resulting from a dog-bite injury. Fluffy may not be able to talk, but if he could, he’d thank you for securing your financial future together.

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