This week, a victim of a serious dog bite attack in New Haven died of her injuries (See Fox News 61 article.) And in the past few years the dollar amounts paid out in insurance claims has increase drastically. How should insurance respond to dogs and dog-bite claims?
In 2003 the average insurance claim cost per dog bite claim was $19,162. In 2015 it was $37,214. That’s almost double. (figures according to State Farm). The number of claims have stayed about the same in that same amount of time, around 15,000 to 17,000 per year. Note that some dog-related injuries are not bites but knock-downs or tripping someone caught in the leash. We’re including these in the dog-bite discussion, here. And these are just insurance claims. There are about 4.7 million dog bites to humans each year in the U.S.. Very few result in an insurance claim.
Currently, insurers in CT avoid certain breeds of dogs that are more prone to bite people and be aggressive. Insurers usually refuse to write the policy, forcing the consumer to purchase a homeowners policy from a secondary market that excludes insurance coverage for dog bites altogether.
What do you think should happen? Should insurers not ask about dogs and just provide coverage? Should insurers be allowed to issue an exclusion in coverage for dog bites? If so, exclude by breed of dog? Past history? Should insurers surcharge for dogs?