Working With Your Insurance Agent

« Back to Home

Animals And Auto Insurance: How The Four-Legged Creatures Of The World Are Included In Insurance Policies

Posted on

Humans have a seemingly endless fascination with animals. People travel great distances to go on safaris to see them in the wild or spend their weekends at the zoo. In between, they continue to watch them thanks to television networks entirely devoted to animals. Pets are treated as family members and have their own shops, salons and daycare centers. So, it should come as no surprise that with so many creatures around all of the time they will eventually either harm a vehicle or be harmed by one. This is why insurance companies offer protection for their clients in a number of animal-versus-vehicle scenarios. 

Accidents With Wild Animals

Collisions with deer, moose and other wildlife are far too common. For example, over one million deer are killed on roadways in the U.S. every year at an estimated cost of $4 billion for the drivers. There are two basic scenarios in these instances that will determine how the claim is paid. The auto insurance company will typically consider it to be a no-fault accident if the animal is struck, and they will pay for the repairs through the comprehensive portion of the policy. If an animal causes a driver to swerve and hit a tree or fence or some other object rather than the animal, the damage is paid by the collision coverage. 

Accidents With Domestic Animals

Pet owners are generally considered to be responsible for accidents that involve their dog, cat or other pet. This could change if the driver was intoxicated or otherwise not in control of their vehicle. The damage done to the vehicle is paid through the driver's comprehensive coverage as it would be if it were a wild animal. In this instance, the driver will usually have a legal right to sue the owner of the pet for not having it under control. The damages would then be covered by their homeowner's insurance or an umbrella policy.  If the driver was at fault, their insurance company could be sued, particularly if the domesticated animal was not a pet, but a farm animal. Every region is different in the country, but in many rural areas, the animal owner is allowed to sue for the value of the animal as well as the loss of any future offspring it may have produced. 

Damage Created by Pets

Dogs are wonderful companions, but they are not always the best friend of every vehicle they meet. Scratches on the exterior due to a dog jumping on the vehicle and interior damage from claws or chewing are also claims the insurance company will pay. If the paint scratched is on the pet owner's vehicle, it is usually more affordable to repair alone rather than make a claim. However, this is not necessarily an option if the damage is to another vehicle. Both homeowner's policies and auto insurance policies will offer some coverage for this type of incident, so it makes sense to talk to an agent to find out what policy would be best to file a claim against. Comprehensive coverage will often pay for interior damage, but some policies only include this if the owner asked for a rider for this type of coverage when they purchased the policy.

Damage by Wild Animals

Rodents are the most common cause of damage to vehicles when there has not been an accident. Rats, mice and squirrels as well as many other small creatures will nest in parked vehicles and chew through wiring, hoses and seats as they search for food and bedding. They are capable of causing a large amount of havoc in a very short period of time. Some policies will cover this type of incident and others will not. It is important to know when purchasing coverage whether or not the comprehensive section specifies rodent damage, especially if the vehicle will be parked for a length of time where rodents will have easy access to it. 

Accidents Involving a Pet

Having a pet in a vehicle during an accident may lead to some very expensive vet bills. Most basic insurance plans will not cover injured pets, and pet health insurance plans may only cover pets that are hit by cars and not those in the vehicle during an accident. That is changing as more companies are creating pet auto insurance plans. This type of coverage has to be purchased as an addition to an auto insurance policy. Anyone who drives regularly with their pet may find it reassuring to know their furry friend is covered if anything happens. 

Pets, farm animals and wild animals are a potential risk factor for every driver. This danger is a reality for urban, suburban and rural drivers. To be financially protected, all drivers should make certain their policy covers the most common types of vehicle/animal incidents.