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Video: Dog bites and home insurance claims

A dog bite can certainly take a bite out of your household budget.

In 2011, dog bites represented more than one-third of home insurance liability claims paid in the U.S. The total bill? Nearly $479 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute, with the average payout surpassing $29,000.

Given the high-dollar stakes of dog bites, some insurers are reluctant to cover homes with certain dogs that they label as “dangerous.” These breeds include pit bulls and Rottweilers. Still, most insurance companies will issue policies to homes with dogs.

Once a dog has bitten someone, your insurance company may charge a higher premium or exclude the dog from coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Some companies require dog owners to sign liability waivers for dog bites. Others will cover a pet only if the owner takes the dog to classes aimed at modifying its behavior.

In 2013, lawmakers in states like Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon and Tennessee have been debating legislation regarding dog-bite liability.

The American Bar Association, the country’s largest group of lawyers, opposes legislation that targets certain dog breeds. In a 2012 resolution, the association urged politicians and government agencies “to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs … .”