Dog bites are "inherently dangerous" to finances

May 21, 2012|Eileen Ambrose

Maryland dog lovers are upset by a ruling in the highest court in the state that says pit bulls are “inherently dangerous,” which means owners and landlords can be liable for the first bite a pit bull makes.

But dog bites of all breeds turn out to be expensive.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that last year insurers paid out nearly $479 million in dog bite claims with the average claim reaching $29,306. That’s an increase of $3,230 per bite over last year. The number of bite claims last year totaled 16,292, up by 522 from the year before.

The property and casualty insurers trade group says state laws vary about dog bites. Some have a one-bite rule, meaning that owners won’t be liable for a dog’s first bite.

Usually, dog bites are covered under the owner’s homeowners and renters insurance policies. If you have a lot of money, the insurance group says, the odds are the victim will sue you.

Some people buy dogs to guard their homes and possession, but the insurance group advises that it might be cheaper to get deadbolt locks or a home security system. Installing these devices can even lower your premiums.



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