The law in the UK says that you are responsible for any accident your dog causes. This means that you can be sued for damages should your dog injure or kill someone or damage property.
As damages can run into thousands, or possibly even hundreds of thousands of pounds, it is highly advisable to make sure that you have some sort of insurance cover for this eventuality.
Providing you have insurance cover, your insurer will then usually pay the compensation and costs awarded against you, together with your legal costs and expenses.
Third party liablity cover (called public or personal liability cover by some insurers) is included as standard in the majority of pet insurance policies, although some policies make it “optional” and one or two of the cheaper policies don’t include it.
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 clue to the major exclusions is in the name – third party! This means it excludes any accidents where you or someone closely connected to you. The precise exclusions vary but usually include close family, employees and often housemates.
As pet insurance is a “personal” rather than “commercial” insurance you will usually find that it also excludes any accidents related to your employment or workplace.
Some policies have additional exclusions which may include claims resulting from:
- 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
- failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that your dog is never on a “designated road” without being on a lead.
- failing to ensure your dog’s collar and lead are in good condition and well-fitted.
- failing to keep your dog in a secure area and taking all reasonable steps to prevent escape.
- failing to keep your dog on a lead when loading them in or out of your vehicle in an area which is not secure.
As always be very careful to read the policy documents to ensure you are aware which exclusions apply to your policy!