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California dog bite claims are costly for home insurers

California dog bite claims are costly for home insurers

Most homeowners’ insurance policies will cover at least a portion of the damages associated with a dog bite when the owner is liable. In California, the pet owner’s insurance company may reimburse an animal attack victim for the ensuing medical bills. Workers' compensation providers may also shell out payments following an attack on employees such as postal workers. A recent report indicates that those reimbursements are getting costlier.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2014 in California, there were 1,867 dog bite claims filed, which is more than any other state in the country. The average cost per claim in the state was $33,649, costing providers roughly $62.8 million in total. Across the nation, the number of claims has actually declined, but the cost per claim is up more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014. At $32,072, the average claim in 2014 is 15 percent higher than it was in 2013 at $27,862 per claim.

A spokesperson for the I.I.I. states that the spike in cost is due to the growing size of settlements, jury awards and judgments plaintiffs receive as well as the increase in the cost of associated medical care. Further, claims may stem from more than simply dog bites. Animals can cause significant injuries when they knock down people on foot or on bikes, especially when the victims are children or senior citizens. 

Industry experts say the most dangerous animals are those whose owners are irresponsible and provide poor training and socialization. Anytime people suffer an attack, they should consult with an attorney to explore filing a claim and securing the maximum compensation possible.

Source: Insurance Journal, “When Dogs Bite, Home Insurers Pay Average $32,000,” May 15, 2015 

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