The cost of a dog bite claim jumped significantly between 2021 and 2022, with the average claim value approaching $65,000 in 2022, up from $49,000 the previous year. Dog bite claims and other canine-related injuries resulted in liability claims under homeowners insurance policies totaling more than $1.136 billion in 2022, according to State Farm® and the Insurance Information Institute (III). While the number of dog injury claims dropped slightly (2.3 percent) from 17,981 in 2021 to 17,583 in 2022, the total cost of claims paid by insurers jumped by 28 percent from the $882 million paid in 2021.
Contrary to popular belief, State Farm indicates that the breed of dog is not a predictor of dog bite claims. Any type of dog could bite a person when the dog is in a situation that makes them uneasy or presents a potential threat, even with a person or child known to the dog.
While postal workers have long been subject to dog bites when delivering mail, a growing category of home delivery risk is associated with e-commerce sales. As drivers from Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, and private contractors deliver an increasing number of packages to homeowners across the country, the risk of dog bites climbs.
Children aged 5 to 9 are at the greatest risk of suffering from a dog bite, with many bites occurring during normal daily activities with dogs that are known. Medical attention is required for almost 1 in 5 people who are bitten by a dog.
Dog bites ranked as the 13th leading cause of nonfatal emergency department visits in the U.S. in 2018, according to a 2020 article published in the National Library of Medicine.
According to the Insurance Information Institute and the American Property Casualty Insurers Association, dog owners are liable for injuries their pets cause, with some exceptions, in 29 states. Another 17 states and the District of Columbia, “liability is not automatically granted but attacks are classified as misdemeanors or, in extreme cases, as felonies, with fines.” The states of Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, and North Dakota reportedly do not have dog bite laws. California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Michigan are respectively the states with the highest number of dog bite claims.
Pet Insurance Options Increase
Many property and casualty insurance companies cover dog bites and related injuries under a homeowners policy. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval. Top P&C insurers offering pet insurance include State Farm, Progressive, Allstate, American Family, and others. Specialty pet insurers also offer coverage, including Trupanion, Lemonade, Figo (sold via Costco), and Embrace (associated with American Modern Insurance).
How to Get Dog Bite Claims Cases
Insurance defense law firms that want to become panel counsel for insurance companies offering pet insurance will first want to identify all the prospective insurers that offer pet insurance in the law firm’s jurisdiction. Then comes the mysterious part of trying to identify who you need to contact at the insurer to be considered for their panel.
How to Become Panel Counsel for Insurance Companies
If your insurance defense law firm is asking how you can get on more insurance panels, give us a call. We have helped more than 250 insurance defense law firms in 40+ states pursue new client opportunities.
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This article is provided for educational purposes only. It is not to be interpreted as legal advice or an opinion in regard to any topic discussed. The article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Every situation is different and circumstances vary widely depending on the governing state law, policy provisions, and related considerations.