Dog bite incidents increase in the summertime, due to more kids riding bikes and running through sprinklers, more dogs out walking on and off leash, and more people having outdoor barbecue parties and generally spending more time outside.
Insurance and Dog Bite Claims
Homeowner’s liability insurance usually covers a dog owner for the injuries or damage that their dog does to another person, even if the incident doesn’t occur on your property. Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance both cover dog liability as part of the policy’s standard coverage with limits of either $100,000 or $300,000. Most companies will insure homeowners with dogs, but once a dog has bitten someone, the premium will likely increase or the dog will be excluded from coverage.
According to State Farm Insurance Company, California leads the nation with the most dog bite claims and the largest insurance payouts. In fact, dog bite claims are the third most common type of claim filed by homeowners, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The number of dog bite claims has hovered around 15,000 to 16,000 annually for the last decade.
Dogs Prone to Biting
Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German shepherds account for the largest number of bites and cause the most serious injuries. According to KidEmergencies.com, most of the dogs that bite belong to the victim’s family or to a friend, and most bites happen at home or in a familiar place. Some of the characteristics common in dogs most likely to bite include:
- Male gender
- Tied or chained up
- Not trained or poorly trained
- Has little or no social interaction
- Has a litter of puppies
- Sick or injured
- Hyperactive or overly excited
- Startled while sleeping
Dog Bite Prevention Tips
The American Kennel Club has some advice regarding preventing dog bites:
- Leash your dog, or when it is allowed to run in the yard, make sure it is inside a fenced enclosure.
- Don’t rely on electronic fences — they may keep your dog in your yard, but they will not keep people and other animals from approaching it.
- Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.
- Socialize your dog, beginning when it is a puppy.
- Be cautious when introducing a dog to new circumstances, and don’t put it in a situation where it could be threatened or teased.
- Never leave young children unsupervised with a pet.
- Teach your children to ask the owner for permission before they pet a dog.
- Be cautious around dogs that are sleeping, eating, or drinking.
- Respect a dog’s space, and don’t stick your hands through its fence.
No matter what the breed, any dog has the potential to bite if it is injured, startled, or feels threatened. Preventing dog bites begins with responsible ownership.
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