It is worth briefly mentioning third-party liability insurance for a dog or a cat. I’m talking about insurance which protects the dog’s owner from a claim for compensation by a person bitten by their dog. The same applies for cats but less so. Standard pet health insurance policies should include third-party liability insurance if it is for a lifetime maximum benefit pet insurance plan. Or it can be added to a pet health insurance policy. It could be accident only or time-limited 3rd-party pet insurance.
Not many dog owners take out 3rd-party pet insurance
However, my research indicates that only 3% of pets in the USA are covered by pet health insurance policies. Although it is difficult to find hard statistics on the number of pets covered by pet health insurance on the Internet. I’m told that in the UK 4.3 million pets are protected with twice as many dogs covered than cats. It is said that 2.8 million dogs are covered by pet health insurance in the UK.
As a percentage, this is probably around 30% of the dog population which is 10 times higher than for the USA (very approximately). These pet owners should be covered for 3rd-party liability. But the rest are not and it is argued that all dog owners who’ve not taken out a pet health insurance policy should pay premiums into a third-party liability insurance policy. It appears that in the UK the RSPCA recommended it.
Clearly, the amount of compensation that a person can claim for a dog bite injury depends upon the seriousness of the injury. My research indicates that a minor hand injury would be worth up to £4,500 in the UK. A serious hand injury with permanent loss of use could be worth up to £58,000 ($73,109). Sometimes compensation can be up to £500,000 in the worst cases. The sums will be similar in the USA I suspect; perhaps a bit higher.
In the UK there are an estimated 6,743 hospital admissions and dog bites and strikes annually and the number is believed to be rising.
I’m told that in the USA, dogs bite around 4.5 million people annually. Over 70% of dog bites occur because the dog is not neutered. About 800,000 of those 4.5 million dog bites require medical care. CDC state that dog bites affect 1 out of every 73 American citizen. The point is that it is a genuine issue.
Some dos and don’ts
Third-party dog insurance would appear to cover claims up to around £1 million including legal costs et cetera. They can also cover damage to property. Warnings always go with insurance of any kind! You should read the policy pretty carefully. You should never admit liability if your dog bites somebody and you are insured. I have always thought that pet insurance of any kind is often too complicated for the average individual. Insurance policies and terms and conditions should be simplified to make them more comprehensible. Perhaps they are designed to trip people up.
And there has to be responsibilities on the dog owner such as taking proper steps to prevent their dog biting a third party. If a dog owner fails to adequately control their dog and at that time, he or she bites a stranger, I suspect that they won’t be covered for the incident. And if their dog has shown in the past that they have a propensity towards risky behaviour, that, too, might preclude insurance.
Working from home?
Apparently, some, perhaps all, third-party pet insurance policies don’t cover the situation where the dog is at the workplace of the owner. In other words, if a dog bites a work colleague at a workplace third-party dog insurance won’t cover the incident. I wonder how that works out with Covid work-at-home practices? If your workplace is at home part of the week and your dog is quite naturally there, are you covered by your third-party pet insurance policy? And if a dog bites somebody and it is considered to be a criminal matter, most insurance policies won’t cover that, as I understand it.
I have failed at this time to find the kind of premiums that you will have to pay for a third-party pet insurance policy. You have to go through an entire quote process and I don’t have a dog. As you can imagine the market is very competitive and you can obtain a quote online but you are going to have to be cautious and critical as to the terms and conditions, exemptions and any other weasel words that prevent you being covered.
Below are some more articles on pet insurance.