Can I get pet insurance that pays if my dog ​​bites someone?

  • Dog attacks are in the spotlight after a series of high-profile tragic incidents
  • A reader asks our experts if she can cover herself if her dog bites someone.
  • Most pet insurance covers dog bites, but be wary of the fine print.

I’ve read disturbing stories about fatal dog attacks in Britain – particularly those of the breed ‘XL Bully’.

I am the owner of a dog myself, Max, a four-year-old lurcher, who is a very gentle and kind dog.

But it seems the issue of dogs biting people is very much on everyone’s minds.

I want to be responsible and prepare for the worst case scenario of Max biting anyone. Is it possible to have insurance to cover the costs of a dog bite? By email

It’s up to you: dog insurance is not mandatory for most breeds, unlike car insurance.

Sam Barker from This is Money responds: The recent tragic dog attacks have certainly put the problem of aggressive dogs and irresponsible owners in the spotlight.

Interior Minister Suella Braverman said last week that the popular XL Bully breed could be banned after a dog attack in Birmingham.

Even though your own dog is among the vast majority of perfectly friendly dogs, it can’t hurt to be prepared.

While the emotional impact of a dog bite cannot be insured, the financial impact to the dog owner can be.

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So the short answer to your question is yes, you can buy insurance against the cost of your dog biting someone else – and in fact it’s included as standard in 90% of insurance offers for pets.

This type of insurance is called civil liability. In the context of pet insurance, this normally covers any compensation you have to pay if your dog attacks someone and a court finds you legally responsible.

It is also compensated if your dog accidentally damages something outside your home, such as someone’s property.

Insurers tend to pay a maximum of £500,000 to £10 million for public liability claims, depending on the policy, according to financial data company Defaqto.

Defaqto found that 419 of the 467 dog insurance offers available, or 90%, include public liability as standard.

There are 22 dog insurance deals that can be upgraded to include liability, and 20 that don’t cover it at all.

So if you currently have pet insurance, check the fine print – likewise if you don’t but are considering purchasing a policy.

Not all liability insurance covers dog bites

But even liability insurance policies may not pay claims if your dog bites someone.

Firstly, while most insurers offer civil liability as standard, some reserve the right to withdraw this cover if your dog is aggressive.

For example, insurance documents from Britain’s largest pet insurer, PetPlan, state that the company may “limit or remove liability cover from the outset of your policy based on your pet’s veterinary and behavioral history.” animal “.

The insurer may also “limit or eliminate liability” based on behaviors such as “aggressive tendencies” when you renew one of its Lifetime Coverage, Classic, Classic Plus, Ultimate or Pet insurance policies. .

Pet insurers will not normally pay if your dog attacks you or your family members or anyone working for you, or if a dog attack is related to what you do as part of your job.

Banned: The Dogo Argentino is one of four dog breeds banned in the UK.

Dog insurance may be mandatory

Normally, dog insurance is the decision of the owner.

But if you own a dog that is one of the four breeds banned in the UK, you should at least have public liability insurance.

The Dangerous Dogs Act prohibits four breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro.

Owners of banned dogs can have their pets automatically removed by police unless they have a court-issued lifetime exemption certificate proving their dog does not pose a risk to the public.

Civil liability is a condition of obtaining one of these exemption certificates.

Other requirements are that he wear a muzzle and be leashed in public, be neutered, microchipped and kept in a safe house.

On the watch list: The American pit bull terrier is also banned in the UK and is one of the breeds that originated the controversial Bully XL.

Insurers may refuse to cover certain breeds

Many insurers do not cover all four breeds on the banned dog list, while some go even further.

For example, Kennel Club Pet Insurance will not cover 16 dog breeds, including American Bullies and pit bull terriers, as well as any dog ​​crossed with one of the 16 breeds on its prohibited list or any dog ​​crossed with a wolf.

Angela Pilley, pet insurance expert at Defaqto, said: “Each individual insurer will have their own list of excluded breeds for which they will not provide any element of cover. This differs from provider to provider.

“As a general rule, excluded breeds will at a minimum be those required to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act or an animal crossed or mixed with one of these breeds, but some suppliers’ lists are much more comprehensive. “

You own a lurcher, which is not one of the prohibited breeds, being a greyhound crossed with a working dog breed.

However, some pet insurers do not offer liability for dogs that hunt, run, are used for security purposes or participate in hare racing. Therefore, if your dog falls into one of these categories, you may need specialist coverage.

Allianz UK, owner of PetPlan, declined to comment. Kennel Club Pet Insurance has been contacted for comment.

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