Dog bite capital of the U.S.? California has highest number of claims

“Old Yeller”
Even faithful dogs, like Old Yeller in the 1957 classic film of the same name, can bite. A recent study reported that dog bite claims in the U.S. climbed 5.5% in 2013 from the year before.

Dogs may be man’s best friend. But dog bites are costing California insurers a hefty chunk of cash.

Insurance companies in California received 1,919 dog bite claims last year, costing a total of $64.7 million -- the highest of any state in the U.S., according to a report from the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.

The rise in claims from canine bites can be seen throughout the country. In 2013, attacks cost insurers $484 million while the number of claims climbed 5.5% from the year before, the report said.

All told, encounters with Fido account for more than one-third of liability costs for homeowners insurance.


“The increase in the number of claims may be attributable to non-bite injuries that are being captured in the analysis, which can include scratching, tripping, knocking down or frightening a person,” the report said. 

Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, said the average cost per claim has climbed more than 45% in the last decade.

The reasons? “Increased medical costs,” she said in a statement, “as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing.”

Just behind California, New York saw 965 dog bite claims totaling $41.6 million last year. The $43,122 average surpassed even the Golden State’s $33,709.



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