Dogs Take a Big Bite Out of Insurance Claims
Dogs are biting into insurance companies’ profits.
The American Pet Products Association says that there are more than 78 million dogs in the United States. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 4.7 million people get bit by dogs each year. More than half of those bitten are kids. About 20 percent of those bitten – some 885,000 people – get medical attention for dog bites. That’s a lot of rabies shots in a lot of bellies. Ouch.
All of these dog bite statistics add up to some major physical and financial damage: the Insurance Information Institute estimates that insurance companies paid out nearly $480 million in claims in 2011, up from $413 million in 2010.
Dog’s not-so best friends? 5-9 year old children, who are biting dogs’ favorite targets, followed by seniors, and…yes, letter carriers. About 5,600 U.S.P.S. workers were attacked by dogs last year. But children are 900 times more likely to be attacked than letter carriers. According to ASPCA statistics, half of all American children will be bitten by a dog –usually by the family dog or a friend or neighbor’s pet – before they turn 12.
Heredity, training, temperament, health, along with human behavior, including aggression and excitement, can trigger a dog to revert to its natural instincts and bite.
8 kid-dog etiquette tips: what to teach your children1
- Don’t stare into a dog’s eyes. It can threaten them.
- Don’t tease a dog
- Don’t approach a chained dog
- Don’t touch an off-leash dog
- If a loose dog comes close, stay calm. Don’t scream or try to run away from it.
- Don’t disturb or play with a dog while it eats or sleeps
- If an off-leash dog comes close, stay still and be calm. Chances are the dog will sniff around, get bored, and move on—but only if you stay calm.
- Always ask the dog’s owner for permission before you pet it. Let the dog sniff your closed hand first, before you make a move.
Dog owners: What can you do to prevent your dog from biting someone?
Dog whisperers, take these precautions before you adopt a new pooch—especially if you have small children at home:
- Ask a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder about the right breeds of dogs best for your home and lifestyle, especially in households with infants or toddlers.
- Spend some alone time with a dog before you buy or adopt it.
- If you have kids, don’t adopt an aggressive dog with anger management issues.
- Be sensitive to children’s fears. If you have a child who is afraid of dogs, don’t rush to bring a new pet home.
Ready, set, arf!
If, after careful consideration, you do decide to adopt a dog…
- Be sure to spay or neuter your new pet, which usually reduces an aggressive predisposition.
- Don’t leave your dog alone with infants or young children, ever.
- Don’t wrestle or get your dog fired up with aggressive play.
- Train your dog and make sure your pet is properly socialized.
- If your dog starts behaving badly or becomes aggressive, get professional help right away.
Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in MA and CT. Plymouth Rock is the flagship carrier of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowner’s insurance throughout the northeast.