State Farm names top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2011

State Farm names top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2011

Insurers across the country paid nearly $479 million in dog bite claims last year. Find out where the dogs' bite was worse than their bark.
May 23, 2012
By staff

State Farm insurance paid more than $109 million as a result of the nearly 3,800 dog bite claims filed in 2011. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that insurers across the country paid nearly $479 million total in dog bite claims last year. In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 20-26), study these statistics and safety tips.

Almost 5 million people are bitten or attacked by dogs every year, according to the State Farm report. The company says dog bites are a serious public health problem that can cause both physical and emotional damage to victims and considerable cost to communities. California had the highest number of reported dog bites (527) and State Farm paid approximately $20.3 million in claims. Illinois came in second with 309 cases and $10 million in paid claims. Texas was third with 219 claims totaling $5.1 million. See list below for the top 10 states for dog bite claims.

State Farm reports that a dog's tendency to bite depends on many factors, such as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health and the victim's behavior. It says there are aggressive and nonaggressive dogs within every breed and it doesn't refuse insurance based on breed.

The company also reveals that children and seniors are frequent victims of dog bites. In fact, more than half of all dog bite victims are children. "Among children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years," says Patricia Olson, DVM, chief research officer for the American Humane Association. "It's important to note that children are often bitten by a dog in their own household. Thus, supervision by parents and teaching children how to avoid being bitten is crucial for protecting both the child and the dog."

Olsen says that prior to obtaining a dog, veterinarians should educate their clients about which dog might be the best match for their family. It's also important for veterinarians to warn clients how to properly introduce the pet to the infant when they bring a newborn baby home. Olson recommends the American Humane Association's free downloadable book When Pet Meets Baby.

In addition to stressing responsible pet ownership, State Farm and the American Humane Association encourage veterinarians to share these safety tips with clients to keep children—and pets—safe.

1. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

2. Always be on the lookout for animals and potentially dangerous situations.

3. Tell children they should never approach strange dogs.

4. Educate all children?including toddlers?to be calm and careful around pets.

5. Make sure children always ask the owner?s permission before petting any dog.

For more information about dog bite prevention, visit the State Farm Learning Center,, or the American Humane Association website,

Top 10 states for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2011

1. California: 527 claims, $20.3 million claims paid (estimated)

2. Illinois: 309 claims, $10.0 million claims paid (estimated)

3. Texas: 219 claims, $5.1 million claims paid (estimated)

4. Ohio: 215 claims, $5.4 million claims paid (estimated)

5. Pennsylvania: 197 claims, $4.9 million claims paid (estimated)

6. Michigan: 181 claims, $7.0 million claims paid (estimated)

7. Florida: 157 claims, $5.1 million claims paid (estimated)

8. Indiana: 139 claims, $3.5 million claims paid (estimated)

9. New York: 133 claims, $6.1 million claims paid (estimated)

10. Minnesota: 117 claims, $3.5 million claims paid (estimated)