Dogs are No. 1 at Causing Insurance Claims, but Bedbugs a Growing Menace

By Jim Sams | April 4, 2019

Dogs remain the undisputed champions at generating insurance claims, deer, birds and cats are doing their amount of mayhem as well, and bedbugs are a growing liability for insurers, according to a review of 470,000 insurance claims over five years by Allianz Global & Specialty.

According to Allianz’s Global Risk Dialogue, animals caused nearly 2% of the 470,000 claims filed over a five-year period and caused $500 million in losses. Bedbug indents, such as bites and infestations, accounted for 8% of those animal claims, generating $2.84 million in losses.

Dog incidents such as bites and scratches made up 30% of animal claims, costing an average of $7,940 each. Deer incidents, particularly collisions with cars, accounted for 17% of animal claims and cost an average of $6,240. Bird incidents also accounted for 17% of animal claims. The vast majority of those claims resulted from collisions with aircraft. Cats caused 8% of the animal claims.

But it’s the bed bugs that have the global insurer worried. According to Allianz’s report, a 2018 survey by the National Pest Management Association found that 97% of the exterminators who responded had treated for bedbugs in the past year, up from only 25% 15 years ago. In the United Kingdom, the number of bedbug incidents has increased every year since 2006 and shows no signs of plateauing, according to Bed Bugs Limited, an extermination company.

Calvin Sugimaya, a risk service specialist for Allianz who’s based in Oregon, said he has seen firsthand how bedbugs — or the fear of bedbugs— is a frequency driver. He said often, an investigation reveals that claimants who thought they were bit by bedbugs were actually bitten by a mosquito or other insect.

But legitimate bedbug claims are filed as well. Sugimaya said he counsels clients to be proactive. They should train maintenance workers to recognize the tell-tale signs of a bedbug infestation: the blood droplets that are left behind. He said businesses also need to have a plan in place to isolate any areas that are infested and an exterminator on retainer who can respond quickly to outbreaks.

“Bed bugs are very opportunistic,” he said. “They can be anywhere and everywhere. They can go for months without a blood meal.”

Sugimaya said in the past year, he’s also seen a fair share of rattlesnake claims. One of those claims came from a visitor to a campsite who was bitten while walking his dog. The camper did not seek medical treatment, which exacerbated the injury and led to to an expensive settlement. Eventually the manager of the campsite insisted on driving the snake-bitten camper to an emergency room.

Sugimaya said he advises any businesses that have spotted venomous snakes on their property to post warning signs and keep in mind that visitors from other states may not be aware of the danger posed by snakes.

He said his clients in Alaska are very experienced with cautioning visitor about wildlife dangers.

“When the moose are out and in rut and the bears are out of hibernation and scouting the area, the resorts put up signs,” Sugimaya said.

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