You are legally responsible for any accident your dog may cause. (You are not legally responsible for the actions of your cats, so this cover only applies to dogs.)
If your dog is involved in an accident in which someone becomes ill, is injured or killed, or someone’s property is damaged, your insurer will pay compensation and costs awarded against you, together with your legal costs and expenses.
Some policies offer optional third party public liability cover. This can be useful i you are already covered on your household policy or elsewhere, as you can choose to opt out in return for a slightly lower premium.
Some policies extend this cover to anyone who is looking after your pet with your permission (although many policies specifically exclude anyone who is being paid to do so).
Most pet insurance policies provide similar cover (although some have some additional exclusions you need to be aware of).
As legal liability is involved, you will find that all policies have strict claims procedures. These usually include the requirement that you must not admit legal liability and you must notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
The wording of these exclusions varies, so you must be careful to check your policy, but the following claims are usually excluded from cover:
- where the injured party is someone who is related to you, works with you or lives with you
- accidents which are in any way connected to business or employment
Some policies have additional exclusions which may include claims resulting from:
- the ownership or use of motorised vehicles
- your dog passing on any disease or virus
- deliberate accidents or omissions on your part where the accident was reasonably foreseeable
- you failing to follow advice or instructions given by your pet’s previous owners or a re-homing organisation regarding your pet’s behaviour.
- your pet escaping or straying, damaging property or attacking people if they have done this before
- your pet’s interaction with other animals
- someone handling your pet without your permission
Some policies specify how you must care for your pet. Requirements may include:
- taking reasonable steps to ensure that your dog is never on a “designated road” without being on a lead.
- ensuring your dog’s collar and lead are in good condition and well-fitted.
- keeping your dog in a secure area and taking all reasonable steps to prevent escape.
- keeping your dog on a lead when loading them in or out of your vehicle in an area which is not secure.
Failure to comply with any of the above may result in your claim being rejected.