Dog bites on the rise, insurance claims in Washington top $9 million

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Whether you own a dog or just know someone who does, chew on this:

On a national basis, the Insurance Information Institute says new numbers show the average cost of a single dog bite claim last year was $37,051.

Here in this state the Northwest Insurance Council's latest numbers show total bite claims exceeding $9 million.

"The averages are similar for Washington, over 30-thousand dollars per claim." said NWIC's Kenton Brine.

If you have homeowners insurance, most dog bites are covered under the liability section, which typically provides for up to $100,000 of protection.

"A renter's policy would be less than that, maybe in the 30 thousand dollar range." Brine explained.

If a dog bite claim exceeds your maximum liability coverage, you're on the hook for the balance. So check your insurance policy. And dog experts warn - never assume your dog won't bite.

Get your dog spayed or neutered so it's less likely to bite.

Socialize your dog to be comfortable around people and other animals.

Supervise kids around all dogs- especially when pets are eating or sleeping- a time when they're more likely to snip.

And avoid playing aggressive games, such as tug-of-war.

Also, even if you have insurance, consider the lasting emotional toll of knowing that your dog caused serious injury to a friend, relative, neighbor or stranger.

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