Isaac Silva often brings along his two dogs on his camping adventures over the last three years. He recently moved to Barnstable, Massachusetts, the largest community in both land area and population on Cape Cod, known for its hundreds of miles of hiking trails. While he has comprehensive auto insurance Barnstable MA, he wanted to make sure it would cover injuries to his pets in the event of an auto accident.
Silva’s predicament is not unique. According to a recent survey, more than half of US dog owners take their pets on a car trip at least once a month.
Many people with full coverage auto insurance—i.e., collision coverage plus comprehensive coverage—assume that this also covers vet bills resulting from a car accident. (Note: Collision coverage pays for crash-related accidents, while comprehensive coverage pays for all the non-accident events such as theft, fire, natural disasters, falling debris, etc.).
If you want to learn if your pets are covered by your auto insurance policy, read the fine print of your liability insurance, which is the minimum coverage required by almost all states (it is illegal to drive without one). This pays for bodily injuries and property damages in the event of accident.
Some insurance companies categorize pets as “property,” and thus they are covered by your policy. Other insurers, however, exclude pets from coverage.
Fortunately, when Silva looked at the fine print of his liability coverage, he learned that his pets fall under the category of property, and thus would be covered in the unfortunate event of an accident.
While a growing number of providers are including pet car insurance in their liability coverage, take note that many will still not cover vet bills in the event of a car accident in which you are the at-fault driver. Nonetheless, some issuers such as Progressive have announced that they are including pets as part of their collision coverage.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that some insurance companies do not cover vet bills if your dog is included in a list of restricted breeds (such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers), which they label as dangerous.
Again, it always pays to read the fine print of your full coverage auto insurance.
While Silva’s auto insurance Barnstable MA included coverage for pet injuries, he found that it was quite limited, i.e., the payout may not be enough to meet veterinary costs in the event of an accident. For this reason, he decided to purchase a separate pet insurance policy.
A separate, or ad hoc pet insurance policy, offers a unique benefit over and above auto insurance that covers vet bills. Generally speaking, it does not increase your premium if you file a claim following a car accident.
Lastly, do not be confused by a homeowners policy that includes dogs in its coverage. This simply means that the policy covers the injuries that your dogs may cause to other people, and not the injuries or illness the pets may sustain themselves.