Over one in three homeowners insurance liability claim payments are a result of these suits.
According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, in 2011, more than a third of all of the claims paid out for homeowners liability coverage had to do with a dog bite.
In fact, those filings made up almost $479 million in payments in that year alone.
The largest American writer of homeowners policies, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, paid out over $109 million to people who were bitten by dogs. It received almost 3,800 dog bite claims last year.
The Insurance Information Institute performed an analysis on the data regarding this type of policy and determined that in 2010, the average claim payout following a dog bite was $26,166. This was an increase in the average individual claim by 53.4 percent over 2003’s statistics. Moreover, between 2010 and 2011, the number of claims increased from 15,770 to 16,292, which is a difference of 3.3 percent.
The rise in the cost of the dog bite claims is connected with the increasing cost of medical care.
Another factor that has come into play is the size of the settlements, the jury awards, and the judgments that are given to the plaintiffs, which have increased much faster than the rate of inflation over the last few years.
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Some states have experienced a greater increase than others. For example, in Oklahoma, State Farm reported that from 2010 to 2011, there was an increase of 41 percent in the number of this type of claim. In 2010, there were 32 filings in that state, whereas in the next year, there were 45. This is the highest number that has been seen by the company since 2007, when it started recording that data.
At the same time, the value of the payouts seems to rise and fall over time. Every year since 2007 there have been payouts higher than $1.5 million and lower than $700,000, and the number fell from 47 that year to the lowest it saw in 2010 and back up again last year.
A dog bite is considered to be a liability claim because it occurs on a homeowner’s property. That particular insurer does not distinguish between breeds, and will not pay a plaintiff in a situation when he or she was a trespasser and the dog was defending its owner.