Dog bites down in 2018, but claims increase among children under 1 year

Here is a reverse countdown of the top 10 states for State Farm dog bite claims in 2018. 10. Minnesota.
Number of claims: 107.
Claims paid: $3 million.
9. New York.
Number of claims: 107.
Claims paid: $7.9 million.
8. Indiana.
Number of claims: 109.
Claims paid: $4 million.
7. Georgia.
Number of claims: 117.
Claims paid: $3.8 million.
6. Michigan.
Number of claims: 155.
Claims paid: $5.4 million.
Advertisement 5. Pennsylvania.
Number of claims: 161.
Claims paid: $5.6 million.
4. Texas.
Number of claims: 168.
Claims paid: $5.8 million.
3. Ohio.
Number of claims: 177.
Claims paid: $4.8 million.
2. Illinois.
Number of claims: 288.
Claims paid: $10.3 million.
1. California.
Number of claims: 409.
Claims paid: $18.6 million.

Every year more than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs with 800,000 of these bites serious enough to require people to seek medical care, according to American Humane.

Any dog can bite. Active supervision, proper socialization and learning how to read a dog’s body language are the keys to reducing bites, the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition advises.

To bring recognition to the cost and danger of dog bites, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA’s) National Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 7-13, 2019.
Emergency room visits doubled for children age 0-1 in 2018
Over the past year, the number of dog bite claims has decreased by 9% (decrease of 338 claims) and the amount paid has decreased by 7% (decrease of $9,116,837), according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm, the largest writer of homeowners’ insurance in the United States.

However, the news isn’t all good. The number of emergency room visits by children age 0-1 doubled from 1,794 visits in 2001 to 3,125 in 2018.

“Even the gentlest dog can bite if they are in pain, feel threatened, or their signals of stress are misunderstood,” said Dr. John de Jong, president of the AVMA. “These miscommunications result in most people being bitten by their own dog or a dog they know. For example, the average child may interpret a dog’s yawn as ‘sleepy’ and licking as ‘kissing,’ while these are often signs of stress in a dog. Not only is it important to understand how dogs behave, it is important to understand how a dog may interpret our behavior.”
Homeowners’ liability claim dollars
Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for nearly one third of all homeowners’ liability claim dollars paid out in 2018, costing $675 million, according to the I.I.I. and State Farm, the largest writer of homeowners’ insurance in the United States.

An analysis of homeowners’ insurance data by the I.I.I. found:
The number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased to 17,297 in 2018, compared to 18,522 in 2017— a 6.6% decrease. The average cost per claim increased by 5.3%. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $39,017. in 2018, compared with $37,051 in 2017. In 2018, State Farm paid $123 million for 3,280 dog bite and injury claims. Education, raise awareness
Dogs don’t just bite ‘out of the blue.’ Most bites are a perfect storm of situation and circumstance, but because dogs’ physical and vocal language is frequently misinterpreted or signals are missed, people often put themselves or others at risk and dogs are blamed as a result,” says Stilwell. “Education is the only way to reduce dog bite incidents in this country, which is why I am proud to be a part of this coalition whose mission is to raise awareness about this issue.”

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association cited approximately two-thirds of pet owners are missing a small window between two and 14 weeks where socialization is crucial in the behavioral development of dogs. Proper socialization can be the difference between a solid human-animal bond and dogs being returned to shelters or destroyed.

Responsible dog owners
State Farm believes that educating dog owners about being responsible will reduce dog-related injuries. State Farm is also one of the few insurance companies in the country that does not have a breed restriction list and does not exclude homeowner or renter insurance coverage because of the breed of dog owned. Under the right circumstances any dog might bite.

The slideshow above ranks the top 10 states for State Farm dog bite claims in 2018.

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