Natural disasters, theft and fire tend to be top of mind when it comes to assessing your homeowners and renters insurance, yet there's another risk that might be residing in your home: your dog.
"If you have a dog, and you own or you rent, you need to think about this," said Peter Kochenburger, deputy director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Liability claims for dog-related injuries have been ticking upward in recent years, with an estimated 18,522 incidents in 2017, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, promoted ahead of National Dog Bite Prevention Week in mid-April. That's up 9.5 percent from 2003.
Payouts for such claims have skyrocketed 93.4 percent over the same period, they found, from an average $19,162 apiece in 2003 to $37,051 in 2017.
Those higher costs stem from rising medical expenses and increased legal claims and judgments as states and municipalities weigh in with laws on owners' liability for injuries a pet causes, said Heather Paul, a dog bite prevention specialist with State Farm.
(See chart below for states where dog-injury claims are more prevalent.)