American dog bite insurance claims rose to $686 million in 2017

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The country saw a 2.2 percent increase in the cost of these claims, said the Insurance Information Institute.

The Insurance Information Institute has released its latest U.S. dog bite insurance claims data. The report showed a 2.2 percent increase in the total cost of claims nationwide last year.

Claims values themselves increased by a considerable amount in 2017 when compared to 2016.

Dog bite insurance claims values rose to over $686 million in 2017. This paid for the year’s 18,552 claims. The average cost per single dog bite claim rose by almost $4,000 last year when compared to the year before.

California was the state in which there were the highest number of insurance claims resulting from dog bites. In that state, there were 2,228 claims, with a total cost of almost $90.4 million. On the other hand, the lowest number of claims occurred in Alaska. There were 34 claims in Alaska. Washington D.C. had even fewer at 28.

Many dog bite insurance claims are completely preventable, said the NW Insurance Council president.

“For so many of us, our dogs are family, and millions of times each day, people and dogs interact happily, without any negative consequences,” said Kenton Brine, the NW Insurance Council president. “And most of the time, dog bites can be prevented through education and responsible dog ownership.”

April 8 to 14 was National Dog Bite Prevention Week, held by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). That organization says dogs bite more than 4.5 million people every year in the United States alone. Among them, 20 percent will require the victim to see medical assistance.

The AMVA says at least half the dog bites reported involve children. The second most common group among reported bite victims are senior citizens.

In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, the NW Insurance Council released helpful dog bite insurance claim prevention tips:

• Learn and comply with breed-specific local and state laws and whether homeowners insurance will cover those breeds.
• Spay or neuter dogs not intended for breeding as studies show the procedure reduces aggression.
• Keep dogs – even well behaved and well trained dogs – leashed while in public.
• Carefully socialize dogs with people and other animals from an early age to improve the dog’s comfort level.
• Never leave dogs unattended when they are with children. Teach children about proper behavior around dogs and teach them to be gentle and refrain from disturbing the animals while sleeping or eating.

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