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Dog bites among most costly homeowners insurance claims

Most Michigan residents would probably guess that a natural disaster or a major theft would be the most expensive claims to settle with one's homeowners insurance. These types of big events are the ones we think about the most when selecting an insurance policy but in fact are not the most common or the most costly among damage or injuries that can happen on one's property.

Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year, about 850,000 of which result in injuries that require medical attention.

Nationwide, dog bites are actually one of the most costly types of claims, at about $29,396 on average. Experts say that dog bites have a high cost because of the degree of emotional and physical damage that an encounter with an aggressive canine can cause.

Property owners and pet owners are responsible for any damage that their dog creates, including injuries that happen off of the insured property. Owners have a duty to keep their animals under control at all times, whether by using a leash or by keeping them indoors. Still, dogs get out of the yard and out of control more often than one might think, causing dog bites to comprise more than one-third of all payouts for homeowners insurance policies.

Medical costs can be a significant factor in dog bite lawsuits, since victims who suffer from deep wounds make contract and infection or need cosmetic surgery to repair the damage. The Insurance Information Institute says that lost wages are also a major influencer in the outcome of dog bite injury lawsuits.

Source: The Advocate, "Dog bites rank high among insurance claims," Tedd Griggs, July 26, 2012.

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