Dog Bite Insurance Claims
Insurance companies that cover home protect banned breedsKaren Collins, vice president at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association is a lobbying organization for the industry. “Every year there are an alarming amount of vicious injuries and fatal attacks on humans by certain breeds dogs,” she said. Children are half the victims of dog bites.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite claims fluctuate each year. A recent high of 18,522 claims in 2017 was due to dog attacks. The average claim cost for dog bites was $50,245, but claims of dog bites declined to 16,991 in 2020.
Collins estimates that the cost of settling these claims would be close to $800million. This is a small amount that represents less than 2% in insurers’ liability losses, which dog advocates consider a “drop-in-the-bucket” situation.Insurers are concerned about the dog-bite trend. Collins says that the medical costs for reconstructive surgery have increased by 15% and legal costs for court proceedings by around 15% in a single year.
Sophia Buchan, a mother of three, from Aberdeen Township, New Jersey was out walking with her children and her black Labrador retriever, when a pitbull appeared from her unfenced yard. Her dog intervened, and almost lost a leg. The dog was called off by the owner, but he never got out of his home.
In order to recover $8,100 in vet bills she sued. Buchan’s police report revealed that Buchan was informed by the police that Buchan’s owner was known for raising vicious animals. Despite her past experience, she is not hostile to pit bulls. She said, “I see them at their vet and they’re completely fine.”She added that the owner has not yet put up a fence.
BSL Breed Specific Legislation
Dog breed discrimination isn’t just for insurance companies. There are many lists in place that differ from one another, including those of cities and states. It is called “Breed Specific Legislation” (or BSL).
According to PetPlace (an information website), BSL was created in 1980 in response to several dog attacks that were fatal. These laws are based on the group of dogs that were involved in the attack and not the offense committed by the dog.PetPlace notes that they “make no concessions for therapy dogs and assistance dogs or search-and-rescue dogs.”
Dog advocates are challenging the evidence behind BSL. This includes a Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which examined dog bites between 1979 and 2003. The study’s randomness in collecting data, much of which was derived from newspaper reports, was a problem they claim. Many times, the animal’s breed could not be identified, even if it was named.According to one study, “some dog breeds are intentionally mislabeled in order to increase the chance of adoption.”
Many insurers feel they are justified in their bans on coverage, particularly against large dogs and pit bulls. Collins says that certain breeds are capable of biting with a force of 1,000 pound per square inches. This is enough to injure a child, or adult, in seconds.
According to Loretta Worters, of the Insurance Information Institute, Loretta Worters compiles information about dog bites.Worters emphasizes that insurance companies do not discriminate against consumers of low and moderate incomes or people of color. She says that bans on dog breeds are based upon insurance claims.
State Farm is Different
Some insurers may not have banned dog lists.Heather Paul, spokesperson for State Farm and owner of two pit bulls, said that State Farm doesn’t ask about the breeds or types of dogs a person has when they write policies.
State Farm instead examines the dog’s past. Paul states that any dog can bite, regardless of breed. Most bites are caused by a combination of circumstances and situations. Dogs are often blamed for putting people at risk. State Farm is focused on dog bite prevention education and not breed restrictions.
Pit Bulls in Peril
One thing is certain: Pit bulls, the most banned breed of dog, are severely affected by state and local laws as well as restrictions by home insurance companies. According to dog advocates’ research, if an insurer refuses to cover policies for these dogs and discriminatory BSL laws, it will lead to their “abandonment of shelter” or “relinquishment.”
It’s already staggering. . . According to Ricardo Lara , California’s insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara , animal overpopulation is a major problem. There are also concerns about what will happen when thousands of “pandemic” pets die.
Hamilton, New Jersey resident Joe Mihalyi visited many shelters to find a pet for his pit bull son. He says that nine of the ten dogs he saw in the cages had been pit bulls. “They had marks and scarred faces.”Mihalyi says, “You could feel that they wanted to be loved, and we wanted one.” However, since we didn’t know their past, we couldn’t accept the chance.
According to the ASPCA, more than a million and a quarter dogs and cats die each year. Many of these animals, more than 400,000,, are pit bulls. Best Friends Animal Society provides community-level data about how animal shelters are saving cats and dogs. More
Practical Advice for Dog Owners
According to dog advocacy groups, some insurers prohibit certain breeds of dogs, while others allow pets in the home. Others will give wiggle room for pets that are already there, while still others will ignore the issue for clients with high net worth who bring in good business. State Farm is one example of an insurer that allows all breeds, provided there is no history of bites.
Collins from the APCIA advises that you contact your home insurance company prior to bringing a dog home. She suggests that you shop around for another insurer or a different breed if your dog choices result in a loss in coverage.
According to the Worters of the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog-bite legal expenses. The typical liability coverage ranges from $100,000 to $300,000. She also recommends that you purchase a personal umbrella policy, which provides an additional $1 million of protection.
PetPlace offers a state by-state list
of “banned specie” laws. Insurers cannot ban certain breeds in some states. Vermont, for example, “doesn’t allow the exclusions of whole canine breeds.” There are many other states that have similar legislation. Home insurers must follow each state’s laws.
Call animal control if your pet has bitten someone. Paul from State Farm says that you should get your dog’s medical records and proof of rabies vaccination. A bite does not necessarily mean that your home insurance policy will be cancelled, but it will be investigated.The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen exam could help you and your dog stay properly insured.