Key Findings:

  • New York, New Jersey and Utah tops in the nation for average cost per claim.
  • California highest number of claims in the nation with 2,166.
  • Average cost per claim in the nation $36,000. 

Most dog owners are under the assumption that their sweet dog would never bite anyone. While unlikely, there’s always a chance they could, and you’d be liable for it. Dog bite claims are more common and far more costly than you think. In 2018, there were over 17,000 dog bite claims in the U.S., totaling $673 million in total claim value.

The totals and frequency of dog bites are high enough to warrant significant attention to protecting yourself from a dog bite claim. Rising medical costs and increased settlements are making dog bite claims all the more costly. Some states are more costly than others for a dog bite claim. The average settlement from a dog bite claim was $36 thousand in 2018.

We here at QuoteWizard analyzed 2018 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm® dog bite claim data to see which states had the highest average cost per claim. Rankings 1 (highest) to 50 (lowest) are based on average costs per dog bite claim in the state. Additional figures show the total number of dog bite claims and the total dollar value paid out in the state.

States with highest average dog bite claim

Ranking (highest) State Average Cost per Claim Number of Claims Total Claim Payout (millions)
1 New York $59,789 821 $49.09
2 New Jersey $55,522 586 $32.54
3 Utah $45,760 116 $5.31
4 California $45,542 2166 $98.65
5 Arizona $44,522 393 $17.50
6 Florida $43,893 1281 $56.23
7 Wisconsin $42,589 418 $17.80
8 Vermont $42,360 37 $1.57
9 Mississippi $41,431 142 $5.88
10 Virginia $40,060 359 $14.38
11 Montana $40,034 57 $2.28
12 Missouri $39,764 338 $13.44
13 North Dakota $38,519 34 $1.31
14 Louisiana $38,283 249 $9.53
15 Kentucky $37,769 201 $7.59
16 Wyoming $37,542 34 $1.28
17 Indiana $37,474 368 $13.79
18 Rhode Island $37,452 69 $2.58
19 South Carolina $37,434 289 $10.82
20 Maine $36,906 68 $2.51
21 West Virginia $36,561 73 $2.67
22 New Mexico $36,326 84 $3.05
23 Alaska $35,718 28 $1.00
24 New Hampshire $35,704 100 $3.57
25 Connecticut $35,644 537 $19.14
26 Illinois $35,553 822 $29.22
27 Michigan $35,468 760 $26.96
28 Pennsylvania $35,423 780 $27.63
29 Texas $35,257 922 $32.51
30 Massachusetts $35,177 403 $14.18
31 Washington $34,938 317 $11.08
32 Nevada $34,730 118 $4.10
33 South Dakota $34,419 40 $1.38
34 Nebraska $34,377 117 $4.02
35 Alabama $34,048 230 $7.83
36 Idaho $33,964 61 $2.07
37 Oklahoma $33,808 224 $7.57
38 Georgia $33,429 448 $14.98
39 Iowa $33,343 150 $5.00
40 Hawaii $33,139 59 $1.96
41 Arkansas $32,447 134 $4.35
42 Tennessee $32,426 293 $9.50
43 Minnesota $32,198 370 $11.91
44 Delaware $31,765 50 $1.59
45 Maryland $30,521 284 $8.67
46 North Carolina $30,252 399 $12.07
47 Kansas $30,004 172 $5.16
48 Colorado $29,600 357 $10.57
49 Ohio $28,900 727 $21.01
50 Oregon $27,876 184 $5.13

Home and renters insurance coverage for dog owners

Many people are unaware that it’s the personal liability coverage on your home or renters insurance that protects you in a dog bite claim. Standard renters and home insurance policies come with $100,000 in personal liability. That $100,000 will kick in to cover a dog bite settlement. Given the average dog bite claim is $36,000 and the highest state average is $59,000, the $100,000 in coverage should be enough, although many claims can exceed the $100,000 of your personal liability, leaving you financially responsible for the remaining settlement.

If you are a dog owner, consider bumping up your liability coverage to over $500,000 to ensure you’re financially covered in the event of a dog bite. Some would suggest purchasing an umbrella policy of one million dollars in coverage.

The AVMA estimates that there are over 43 million dog-owning households in America, for which neither homeowners nor renters insurance is required, like auto insurance is for drivers. Inevitably, there are many dog-owning households that are uninsured and left vulnerable in the event their dog bites someone. If you’re without homeowners or renters liability coverage, seek out a policy to protect you and your pooch. If you are underinsured, contact your agent or insurance provider and look to raise your liability coverage.

Methodology

QuoteWizard analysts collected data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm® joint study on dog bite liability claims by state. Analysts looked at average cost per claim in each state and ranked them from highest cost per claim to lowest cost per claim. Additionally, analysts included total number of claims and total dollar value of dog bite claims in each state.