May 18-24th, 2014 was Dog Bite Prevention Week in the US. Insurance claims involving dog assaults cost the industry over $483 Million last year according to information gathered by the Insurance Information Institute. Maybe this explains why one of the questions on a Homeowners application not only asks if you own a dog, but more specifically what breed of dog you own.
Here are the highlights by state:
• California leads with 449 claims totaling $14.7 million paid
• Illinois with 309 claims and $8.9 million paid
• Ohio with 221 claims and $4.2 million paid
• Texas with 207 claims and $4 million paid
• Pennsylvania with 180 claims and $5.8 million paid
• Michigan with 162 claims and $3.9 million paid
• New York with 149 claims and $6.4 million paid
• Indiana with 146 claims and $3.5 million paid
• Minnesota with 120 claims and $4 million paid
• Georgia with 106 claims and $2.1 million paid
• Arizona with 105 claims and $2.8 million paid
• Florida with 93 claims and $5.5 million paid
• Oregon with 91 claims and $1.4 million paid
• Missouri with 88 claims and $4.3 million paid
In addition, the US Post Person still remains the #1 target with 5,581 claims suffered by postal service workers. Furthermore, the report cited that the cost of the average claim has risen over 45% in the last decade as a direct result of increased medical costs coupled with the increased size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs.
Being a dog lover myself, I never see a potential danger when I stop to admire a dog, but then I rarely dress up in a postal uniform!
But seriously, we live in a very litigious society and with dog bite claims on the rise, insurance companies are adding animal exclusions to Homeowners or Fire Policies regardless of the breed. If your policy has this exclusion, you will be paying all attorney and settlement fees out of your own pocket. If you own a dog, thinking of getting one or allowing your tenants to have a dog(s), we suggest you call your agent today to be sure your policy does NOT have this exclusion.
By Karen Skoler, CPCU