Dog Bite Liability

Many, if not most of us, enjoy spending time with man’s best friend, the dog. But did you know Georgia is ranked in the top ten for the number of dog bite incidents?

In 2016, there were 462 dog bite claims in Georgia alone. The average cost to settle these dog bite claims was nearly $30,000 and in total $13.6 million was paid out.

Clearly, dogs can and do pose a potential threat to others. Here’s some additional information about dog bite liability coverage from the Insurance Information Institute:

Homeowners insurance liability claims

  • Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016, costing more than $600 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
  • An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,123 in 2016 compared to 15,352 in 2015 –– an 18 percent increase.
  • The average cost per claim for the year, however, decreased by more than 10 percent. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $33,230 in 2016, compared with $37,214 in 2015 and $32,072 in 2014. The decrease in 2016 average cost per claim may be a result of a decrease in severity of injuries. However, 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, which are trending upwards.
  • California continued to have the largest number of claims in the United States, at 1,934 in 2016, an increase from 1,684 in 2015. The state with the second highest number of claims was Florida at 1,325. But the state with the highest average cost per claim was New York, with $55,671.The trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., which can result in injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers these tips to protect yourself, your dog, and others:

  • Follow the rules and guidelines associated with the event or area.
  • Teach your dog good leash manners and obedience. If your dog does not behave well around other dogs or people, you should not take it to dog gatherings.
  • Remain in sight of your dog and be aware of its behavior while at a dog gathering. Remember, your dog and its behavior are your responsibility in these situations. If your dog shows signs of aggression, fear or illness, remove your dog from the situation and consider leaving the site altogether.
  • Avoid contact with dogs that appear aggressive and report their presence and behavior to the proper authorities.
  • Before your children accompany you and your pet(s) to a dog gathering, make sure they are aware of safety around dogs. While present at the dog gathering, monitor your children closely to make sure they are safe and protected from harm (e.g., injury, bites, etc.).

If you have any questions about how your insurance policy would respond in the event of a dog bite incident, please Contact Us.

About David Dempsey Insurance Agency

Founded in 1984 by David Dempsey, David Dempsey Insurance Agency serves Rome, GA, Floyd County Georgia, metro Atlanta and surrounding area. Focusing on insurance for families and individuals, we don't provide quotes - we provide auto and home solutions for our fellow community members. We also specialize in insuring retail businesses, restaurants, health clubs and child care / home care centers.