Despite relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions, behavioral issues in pets and rising costs persist.
By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
As pet owners return to the workplace or school, pets will be left home alone. Behavioral issues such as separation anxiety could result in aggressive and destructive behavior. This could be a problem for dogs that were adopted during the pandemic as well as pets that have become used to their pet owners being at home.
March 2020 had the most dog-related injury claims, when people first went into lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Farm. Dog bites were up 21.6 percent from the previous March, likely due to dogs dealing with owner stress, disruption in routines and more people around the house throughout the day. With the easing of restrictions for activities outside the home—experts feared it would lead to another spike in bites. The overall number of claims slightly increased to 17,989 in 2021 from 17,567 in 2020, accounting for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claims paid out, costing $881 million.
Dog bite-related claims costs have been climbing for years. The average cost per claim nationally has risen 39 percent from 2012 to 2021, due to increased medical costs and the upward trend in the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards.
Claims costs are attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, and the elderly, which can result in costly injuries.
The latest Triple-I dog bite claim figures are released in conjunction with National Dog Bite Prevention Week, an event held each year to help reduce the number of dog bites.
Children are particularly at risk for dog bites and are more likely to be severely injured, so it’s essential for parents to teach their kids to be safe around strange dogs and their own pets.
Dog training is, of course, key to preventing dog bites and related injuries for everyone, and National Dog Bite Prevention Week’s organizers offer many practical tips. This year, dog experts are again focused on re-socializing animals that have been isolated along with their humans.
Triple-I recommends that you check your homeowners or renters insurance policy to be sure it covers liability for dog bites and related injuries. Click here for more details about dog bite liability insurance.