Dog Bite Explosion Causes Ripples In Insurance Industry

Homeowner’s insurance often pays the cost when a dog causes injury by biting someone. A sharp rise in the number of dog bites, and the resulting insurance claims to compensate bite victims, has caused Farmers Group, Inc., in California, to make a change. The company recently informed policy holders that its homeowner’s insurance policies will no longer cover bites by pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids. The move has sparked controversy among dog owners and professionals who work with those breeds.

The problem of dog bites is growing nationwide. In 2011, $480 million was paid in claims involving dog attacks. That number was 50 percent higher than it was in 2003, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A spokesperson from Farmers laid much of the blame on the breeds the company separated out. According to that representative, pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids were involved in one-quarter of all the claims filed against Farmers. Those breeds were also distinguished in the amount of damage they did per incident.

Other insurance companies have taken steps to address the proliferation of dog bite claims. Some are charging higher fees for owners of certain types of dogs, some have instituted policies where they will cover the first time an animal bites, but will not cover any future attacks. Still others have simply decided not to cover any dog bite claims at all.

Dog bite victims may soon face even greater difficulties in obtaining proper compensation for their injuries. What is clear is that pet owners need to do more to ensure that their animals do not bite.

Source: NBCUniversal Media, LLC, “Coverage to End For Bites by Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Wolf Hybrids,” by Sharon Berstein, 12 February 2013