Pet Injury Coverage – Are Pets Covered In Car Accidents?

by Ron Grant

In 2007, Progressive was the first insurance company which came out with the supplemental auto insurance plan, providing pet owners with some amount of financial relief with respect to pet injury coverage in case of any untoward car accident when travelling with pets. They offered their customers pet bodily injury liability claims of up to $1,000 as an add-on to their collision coverage insurance policies.

In February this year, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies has upped the stakes and is now offering $2000 for any animal passengers that are injured or die in an accident. The supplemental insurance coverage is only available in select states for now and covers any veterinary treatments, or replacements of domestic pets, even on commercial vehicles like trailers. This is one of the many key enhancements that Chubb is offering to its private and commercial consumers.

The VP and worldwide Automobile Product Manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, Raymond Crisci commented that “Drivers with adequate health insurance know they’ll be protected in case of an auto accident, but pets are often overlooked members of the family. Chubb’s pet injury coverage is designed to ensure that our policyholders’ pets get the treatment they need following an accident.”

Why Do You Need Auto Liability Insurance For Pets?

Many pet owners often like to take their furry friends along when driving around town or for longer excursions. But automobile manufacturers provide no special seatbelts or safety features for animal passengers, not even at an additional cost. So who covers sweet Casper’s bills in case of a road accident, theft, fire or other automobile injury-related costs and “Acts of God” while he is travelling with you in the car?

Today, several auto insurance companies offer pet owners the choice of purchasing supplemental pet injury coverage as an independent pet injury auto insurance policy or provide it as a free add-on to their personal injury protection or collision coverage insurance policy. These policies can only be used to cover the cost of treatment of injuries or replacement of domestic pets like dogs and cats in the event of accidents, or other incidents such as vandalism, theft or “Acts of God” such as floods, hurricanes, hailstorms etc where your pets are hurt while in a vehicle.

Veterinary care can be brutally expensive. And if you’ve been in an accident, along with paying for your own and your passengers’ medical bills, you may not be able to provide proper medical care to your injured pet. Many insurers offer pet injury liability coverage as a free bonus for collision coverage policies already purchased through them or owned by their customers. In some insurance policies, a nominal price of an additional $20 per year can buy you a supplemental auto insurance which helps pay the costly vet bills should the need arise. This type of pet auto insurance coverage also includes the costs of burial and replacement should it be required.

In certain states that have ‘no fault’ insurance laws, your personal injury protection insurance policy will extend coverage costs to your pet as well. You can give your auto insurance company a call and check whether this is applicable to your policy. This coverage will only extend to the maximum coverage that your PIP insurance plan entitles you and yours to. So if you have an exotic pet which typically requires expensive treatments and you feel that your insurance may not cover the costs of your pet’s treatment as well as your own and that of your other passengers in case of an accident, then you might want to look at the options of purchasing an extended or additional coverage for your pet.

Almost all the free or bonus pet coverage schemes will pay up to $1000 towards your pet’s vet bills, burial and replacement. A number of these schemes such as the one Progressive will also cover accidents that may occur in other commercial or recreational vehicles such as boats or trailers etc.

Many of these ‘pets covered’ insurance policies also provide insurance coverage to pets of relatives and friends travelling in the vehicle. But make sure you contact an expert insurance agent before filing any claims. So don’t forget to ask around and check for any insurance coverage availability discounts that might be available and benefits before paying for extended or additional insurance cover.

Is Pet Injury Coverage Different From Pet Insurance?

A lot of people frequently confuse pet injury insurance policy coverage with pet insurance. Pet insurance is not equivalent to auto liability or bodily injury insurance for your pet. Pets covered under a supplemental auto insurance plan are insured for injuries or death caused by automobile accidents. Pet Injury Coverage does not cover the costs of medical claims or vet bills in case of sickness or death due to any other reason. This is covered by pet insurance.

Who Does Pet Injury Coverage Auto Insurance Actually Cover?

If you own a dog or a cat, there are several top insurance companies such as Progressive, ERIE and Arbella for you to choose from. But if your pet is anything apart from these, Chubb would be the obvious choice. Chubb insures all pets, including horses which are not used for commercial purposes such as racing, stud farming etc.
“Chubb’s customers have lizards, horses, birds, bunnies and all manner of exotic pets, so it only makes sense we extend coverage to these animals as well,” says Christie Alderman, VP – New Products And Services Manager at Chubb Personal Insurance.

Of course, the devil is in the details. You must read the fine print of the auto insurance policy in order to ensure that your pet is covered under your particular insurance plan. You must also understand what is covered under the supplemental pet policy to avoid your claims being denied at a critical time.

Also, pet auto liability insurance only covers pets and not commercial, income-generating animals such as race horses and dogs etc. Since pets are considered property by the law and the insurance companies, animals used for commercial purposes have to be covered under a separate commercial insurance plan.

Owning a pet injury insurance cover for your beloved companion can many times be the difference between life and death for them. The average American cannot afford pricey medical care for injured pets, which can sometimes lead to permanent disabilities in your pet or even death. If you cannot afford an expensive auto insurance policy for your pets, the least you can do is explore your options and sign up for at least the most basic pet injury coverage that is available in your state, whether independently or as a supplemental auto insurance plan to your own car insurance policy.

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LovesDogzz September 16, 2011 - 3:25 pm

It’s good to let people know that there are options for coverage if their pets are injured in car accidents– but they would likely receive more claim reimbursement, in the event of a car accident, if they took out a policy with pet insurance company rather than purchased an add-on through their car insurance. Pet health insurance companies like Pets Best Insurance cover accidents, illnesses and injuries at 80% after the deductible. This is where I have my dog insured! And I also work for the company.

Mike Fischer September 18, 2012 - 7:40 am

Many pet owners would say that their pets are, without question, part of the family, and just as you’d want your siblings to be covered in the event of an accident, you’d want your pet to be too.
To ensure that pet injury protection is available under your existing auto insurance policy, it’s best to read the fine print on your policy and to talk to your insurance agent to double check your options.
Twitter: @unocardealers


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