Car Insurance and Your Pet

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April 30, 2010
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Everyday I see dogs in cars looking out the windows at the world whizzing by. Some have their noses sticking out of the cracked open window sniffing the air and others are standing as tall as they can to see everything. Some are in the front seat, some are in the back, some are in the hatch, and all of them are excited.

It’s cute and funny to see them desperately try to take in all the scents they are picking up at speeds they normally don’t experience when on a walk.

As much as dogs enjoy car rides, are they covered if there’s a an accident?
If so, where’s that line with the ton of fine print in your insurance that states it?

After doing some research, it seems that not all of the well-known car insurance companies offer pet collision coverage but will cover your pet as “personal property.” This means it could be a pet, an antique chair, or a kazoo… but I think it has to be a mighty fancy kazoo to qualify. This isn’t to say that insurance companies aren’t sensitive to pet owners and pets.

As many of us know, if you are in an accident and it is viewed as the fault of the other driver, it is their insurance that covers your damage. But, if you are at fault, your insurance may not cover expenses if your dog or cat is injured. This is typical when it comes to deciding who pays for what damages to a car, person, and item.

However, there are some companies that will cover a pet no matter who is at fault. The best thing to do is check your insurance policy and ask your representative.

Progressive has a specific clause that covers your pet under their http://auto.progressive.com/progressive-car-insurance/pet-injury-coverage.aspx Pet Injury plan. It automatically is included in their collision coverage and offers up to $1000 of coverage for dogs and cats if they are injured in a car accident.

They began this in 2007 and since then some other car insurance companies have also started to include pets in their collision plans. There are also a few specialty companies that offer pet insurance that you could look into if your insurance company does not cover your pet.

If you are going to be taking your dog to the beach, dog parks, or on a trip this summer take a few extra steps to make sure they are safe in the car. If there is an accident, the best thing you can do is minimize injury to your dog by doing the following:

1: Do not let them ride in the passenger seat no matter how cute and awesome it is. The passenger airbag can seriously injure your dog.

2: Do not let them hang their head and half their body out the window. They can get ear infections, dirt or objects in their eyes that could hurt them, and they are at risk of falling out of the car.

3: Use a seat belt harness for dogs which can be purchased at your local pet store to keep your dog from bouncing around the car or getting underfoot. You don’t want your dog knocking the gear shift into neutral, or blocking the brake pedal, or obstructing your view.

4: If you have the room, use a carrier or crate for your dog for long trips with a clip on bowl to provide water.

5: Do not let your dog sit on your lap when you drive. It is a distraction and one unpredictable move on your part or theirs could cause an accident.

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