Dog Bites and Your Homeowners Insurance

If you have a dog that is considered by the insurance industry as “aggressive,” your homeowners insurance policy may take a drastic hit.

Some home insurance companies may require a special rider in order to extend coverage on that property or they may refuse coverage completely. Here’s why:

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, liability claims related to dog bites and other dog related injuries cost homeowners insurers $797 million in 2019.
  • The number of dog bite claims nationwide rose to 17,802 in 2019 from 17,297 in 2018, a 2.9 increase.
  • The average cost per claim increased by 14.7 percent in 2019. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $44,760 in 2019, up from $39,017 in 2018. The average cost per claim nationally has risen 134 percent from 2003 to 2019 due to increased medical expenses, size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upward.

Of course, all dogs can bite, not just the “aggressive ones.”

What you can do to prevent dog bites

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends ways to prevent dog bites:

Socialization
Socialization is a good way to help prevent your dog from biting. Socializing your pet helps your dog feel at ease in different situations. By introducing your dog to people and other animals while it’s a puppy, it feels more comfortable in different situations as it gets older. It’s also important to use a leash in public to make sure that you are able to control your dog.

Responsible Pet Ownership
Responsible pet ownership builds a solid foundation for dog bite prevention. Basics of responsible dog ownership that can help reduce the risk of dog bites include carefully selecting the dog that’s right for your family, proper training, regular exercise, and neutering or spaying your pet.

Education
Educate yourself and your children about how—or whether—to approach a dog.

Avoid Risky Situations
It’s important to know how to avoid escalating risky situations and to understand when you should and should not interact with dogs.