Dogs Fears & Anxieties

Dog Bite Insurance Claims: Why Are They Rising?

Share on
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Something’s going down with our relationship with “man’s best friend,” and it’s not the number of dog bites. According to an article in the April 12, 2023, Insurance Journal, the number of dog bite claims since 2003 has gone from 7,359 to 17,597: a whopping increase of 139 percent. That number far exceeds the corresponding percentage increase in the number of dogs.  

This begs several questions: 

*Is there a higher percentage of dangerous dogs today compared to 2003? 

*All experts agree that most dog bites are preventable, but are we increasingly not paying attention to how to prevent them? 

*Or are people simply more likely to make insurance claims? 

Likely it’s a combination of all three. 

Insurers paid out over $1 billion in dog-related injury claims in 2022, a 28 percent increase over 2021, even though the number of claims decreased last year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and State Farm.

There were 17,597 dog-related injury claims in the U.S. in 2022, down from 17,989 in 2021, according to a Triple-I analysis of homeowners insurance claims data. While that slight decrease in claims may appear statistically insignificant, it’s also important to consider that there were more dogs in homes in 2022 compared to 2021. So, there’s a flicker of good news here. 

Still, despite a 2.2 percent decline in the number of claims, the total cost of claims increased significantly—from $882 million in 2021 to $1.13 billion in 2022.

The average cost per claim was $64,555 in 2022, a 31.7 percent increase from $49,025 in 2021. Across the U.S., the average cost per claim rose 131.7 percent from 2013 to 2022 due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upward, in great part due to the highly litigious culture with increasing expectations for going to court.

More than a third of dog-related injury claims in 2022 were filed in five states: California (1,954 claims), Florida (1,331), Texas (1,017), New York (969), and Michigan (905). California also had the highest average cost per claim at $78,818, followed by Florida with an average cost of $78,203.

In 29 states, dog owners are liable for injuries caused by pets, with some exceptions such as if the dog was provoked, according to a Triple-I analysis of dog bite laws compiled by the American Property Casualty Insurers Association (APCIA) as of March 2021. 

There are no laws for dog bites in four states: Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, and North Dakota. Homeowners and renters’ insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses up to limits typically between $100,000 and $300,000. Increasingly, however, those limits are not enough. 

Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own dogs categorized as “dangerous” based on presumed breed or mix. However, some states are beginning to legislate against these unfair practices. 

Janet Ruiz, strategic communications director of the Insurance Information Institute, notes the obvious, that increased claims and litigation can have a deleterious impact on homeowner insurance premiums over time. That is true for people who have pets as well as people who don’t. 

Of course, no dog wakes up in the morning thinking, “I need to bite someone today.” Most of these dogs are afraid, anxious and/or painful or weren’t properly socialized in the first place. That is leading the dog to bite. Most dog bites are indeed preventable (, but if we’re going the other way, we’re missing something. 

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Steve Dale, CABC (certified animal behavior consultant) has written and contributed to many books about pets; hosts three radio shows; contributes to Veterinary Practice News, CATSTER and others; is on the Board of Directors of the Human Animal Bond Association and Winn Feline Foundation, and is chief correspondent for Fear Free Happy Homes. He speaks at conferences worldwide. Read more of his work through his blog:

Want to stay in the loop on the latest and greatest in keeping your pet happy and healthy? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here!

Recent Articles

View and Search All Available Content >