The Insurance Information Institute released a report that shows dog bite claims have grown by 37 percent in recent years.
About one-third of all homeowners liability insurance claims are dog-bite claims.
In 2010, the average amount paid by insurance companies on a dog bite claim was $26,000 and the total paid for all dog bite claims was $413 million.
Many Florida homeowners insurance companies either exclude or limit the liability coverage from dog bites. If you own a dog (or any pet) you need to check your homeowners insurance policy so you know exactly how much coverage you have in case a dog bite claim bites you!
To reduce the chances of a dog biting someone, the following steps are recommended:
- Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household and neighborhood.
- Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant or toddler. Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
- Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful of or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog. Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
- Have your dog spayed or neutered. Studies show that dogs are three times more likely to bite if they are NOT neutered.
- Socialize your dog so it knows how to act with other people and animals.
- Discourage children from disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping.
- Play non-aggressive games with your dog, such as “go fetch.” Playing aggressive games like “tug-of-war” can encourage inappropriate behavior.
- Avoid exposing your dog to new situations in which you are unsure of its response.
- Never approach a strange dog and always avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening.
- Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.