While their dogs may not have a history of being aggressive, pet lovers should remember there is still a chance that their dog can bite someone. This will lead to homeowners insurance claims that could cost them out of pocket.
The Insurance Information Institute recently released a report that found dog bites resulted in $530 million worth of insurance liability claims in 2014. The report is in conjunction with National Dog Bite Prevention Week between May 17 and 23, which aims to reduce the number of dog bite incidents.
Not only did dog bites account for more than one-third of home insurance liability claim dollars last year, the expenditures surrounding these cases grew significantly. The average national cost of a dog bite claim was $32,072 in 2014, up from $27,862 the previous year.
"The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing," said Loretta Worters, III vice president.
The highest number of claims and cost per claim originated in California with 1,867 and $33,649 respectively. California's cost per claim is higher than the national average.
How to reduce insurance costs and dog bites
To save money on home insurance and get the right coverage, homeowners should determine whether there are restrictions with the type of dog they have to remain compliant with their policies.
Insurance agent Tracy Kiefer in Quincy, Illinois, said homeowners may have their coverage canceled if they get a dog after purchasing an insurance policy that prohibits that breed, NBC affiliate WGEM in Quincy reported.
"If they write you (a policy) and then come out to inspect and find out you have that animal, they could tell you that you have to get rid of the dog," Kiefer said. "Dogs can have an effect on whether or not you can purchase an insurance policy."
III also recommended that homeowners take steps to avoid dog bites, including seeking out professional help to determine suitable dogs or train their pets in the event they may exhibit unwanted behaviors. Pet owners should also need to socialize their dogs to get used to other animals and humans and lower the chance they will be aggressive.
CoverHound provides online search tools for pet lovers to find the right home insurance coverage.