Bow WOW:  Breeds Matter

Bow WOW: Breeds Matter

Structured Settlements for Dog Bites

Dog Breeds, Bites and Insurance Claims

February 18, 2013 – According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of ALL homeowners liability dollars paid in 2011.  It took a total of about $479 million to satisfy more than 16,000 claims that year.

That’s $3.53 trillion in dog dollars.

Laws vary by state but generally homeowners are responsible for the damage caused by their dogs, including personal injury caused by a dog that bites someone.  And your insurance premiums can be influenced by a number of dog-related factors primarily:

Breed of dog

Dog’s biting history

Since the financial impact of dog ownership can be significant (see our blog post from last year entitled Doggone Insurance Claims), it pays to be a responsible dog owner.

Those who want to be extra cautious about limiting the possibility someone will be injured by their family pet may wish to be selective when choosing a breed in the first place.

According to, a 30-year study on dog bites revealed some telling statistics about certain breeds.  Among the findings:

  • The pit bull is far and away the breed most likely to cause bodily harm
    • Pit bulls were responsible for 233 deaths and 1,268 maimings during this period
    • 911 children were harmed by pit bulls
    • Pit bulls caused 12 times more fatalities than even a wolf hybrid
    • When a pit bull has a “bad moment” and attacks someone, that person has an “off the charts” actuarial risk of being killed or maimed as opposed to simply being bitten


When people are bitten and receive insurance settlements for their damages, structured settlements are often chosen as a preferred method of resolution.  In addition to enabling the victim to set aside future dollars which can pay for scar revision and counseling, some of the general damage dollars are often used to arrange for college funding for minors.

The dog lover in me feels bad that anyone ever has to suffer from being bitten by a dog.  But the insurance professional in me is appreciative of these studies designed to help policyholders and the public at large make more informed choices about the animals they choose.


Finn Financial Group