Dog Bite Claims - Are YOU at Risk?

August 23, 2010

What do you think of when you hear dog bite?


Many insurance companies have been placing restrictions on a homeowner policy if you own a certain type of dog: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullmastuff, Chow, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, Eskimo Spitz, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Great Dane, Husky, Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Wolf Hybrid and there are possibly more.

Does this surprise you?

Sure, having a pitbull on the list is not surprising... here's a recent news article from an attack in New Bedford: Man suffers face, arm injuries in pitbull attack in New Bedford

The German Shepherd isn't surprising to me... I was knocked off my bike and bitten by a German Shepherd when I was five. It took years before I could trust another dog.
The surprising dogs in the line-up: Dalmatian and Saint Bernard. Aren't Dalmatians known for saving people from fires? Aren't Saint Bernards just big, slobbering, friendly dogs? What about the cutesy movies 101 Dalmations, Beethoven?

People comment that it's not the dog, it's the owner. It's how the dog is trained by the owner. I'm sure this is true in many situations. I recall visiting family in South America and my aunt (a nurse) tended to a woman's leg. She was visiting a friend and was bitten by a dog, in fact a chunk of her leg was taken out by the dog. This particular dog was trained by its owners to be vicious. Some dogs in South America are fed "poisonous" food to ensure they have a mean temper and will attack intruders.

I partially agree that how a dog behaves is often the owner and how the dog is trained, however insurance companies don't agree, and they have statistics to back it up. In fact, here's an article written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also have a study on fatal dog bites over 20 years (1979-1998) and the breeds involved. It was interesting to see many of those breeds are on the insurance companies' list of breeds on which they place restrictions.

Here is an article published on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 by Insurance Journal:

Dog Bit Claims Top $400M in 2009; Rise 30% in Last 6 Years

Can you believe $400M dollars being paid out because of dog bites?
IF the average American household makes $50,000/year, that equals 8,000 years of pay!
Your thoughts?

note: I do not know the average American annual income; maybe between $40K-$60K depending on what area of the country in which they reside.