Dog-Related Claims Cost $1 Billion in 2022
Dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurers more than $1 billion in 2022, a 28% increase over 2021, according to the latest claims data analysis from Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and State Farm.
The increase comes despite the number of claims decreasing by 2.2% last year—there were 17,597 dog-related injury claims in the U.S. in 2022, down from 17,989 in 2021. However, the average cost per claim was $64,555 in 2022, a 32% increase from the $49,025 average in 2021. As a result, the total claims cost for 2022 clocked in at $1.13 billion, up from $882 million in 2021.
Over the past 10 years the average cost per dog-related claim—which isn't just limited to dog bites, but also includes dogs knocking down and injuring children, cyclists, or the elderly—has risen 131.7% across the U.S., an increase which the study attributes to increased medical costs, as well as social inflation.
Five states accounted for one-third of the dog-related claims in 2022, with California leading, followed by Florida, Texas, New York and Michigan. California also has the highest average cost per claim at $78,818.
“Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses, up to the liability limits (typically $100,000 to $300,000)," Triple-I noted, adding that carriers may also have different underwriting procedures for certain dog breeds.
“Some insurers are taking steps to limit their exposure to such losses. Some companies require dog owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites, while others charge more for owners of breeds such as pit bulls and Rottweilers and others are not offering insurance to dog owners at all. Some will cover a pet if the owner takes the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior or if the dog is restrained with a muzzle, chain or cage," Triple-I said.
About 69 million U.S. households own dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association. With National Dog Bite Prevention Week April 9-15, Triple-I recommends ways in which dog owners can take responsibility, including training classes for their pets, teaching kids the basics of dog safety, and other ways to prevent pets from causing harm.
In addition to behavioral training and responsible pet ownership practices, an umbrella policy or pet liability coverage may also be a good option for pet owners.
AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor.