Ouch! The Unbelievably High Cost of a Dog Bite
Life + Money

Ouch! The Unbelievably High Cost of a Dog Bite

© Sergio Moraes / Reuters

Man’s best friend sure can take a bite out of your wallet when he misbehaves.

The average cost paid out for a dog bite (or other canine-related injury) claim nationwide was $37,214 last year, up 16 percent from 2014. Overall, the cost has nearly doubled, rising 94 percent since 2003 due to higher medical costs and an increase in settlement, judgment and jury awards, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.

That comes as the actual number of dog-related claims have decreased, falling 7.2 percent from the previous year to 15,352 claims in 2015, and down 9.3 percent from 2003. Still, canine claims represent a third of all homeowner’s liability insurance claims.

California recorded the largest number of claims at 1,684 in 2015, but down from a year ago. Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas rounded out the top five states for dog bite claims. Arizona posted the highest average cost per claim of the 10 states with the most claims at a whopping $56,654.

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The claims also include incidents of dogs knocking down children, cyclists and the elderly, among other, which can cause fractures and other injuries that affect claim losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

It’s not just the insurer who feels the pain. Homeowners who filed only one claim saw their annual insurance premiums rise by 9 percent, according to a 2014 survey by InsuranceQuotes.com. In some states, the increase was as much as 32 percent.

More than 4.5 million people are bitten each year by dogs in the U.S. with one in five requiring medical attention. The most common bite victims are children and the elderly. Last year, nearly 6,600 post office workers were victimized by dogs, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

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Responsible dog lovers should do some research to find the most appropriate dog for their household before adopting, especially if they have an infant or toddler. Keep the dog secured and exercise caution when people visit or when your pup is in a new environment.

Or, get a cat.