Many of us haven’t considered it, but when we’re out driving with the entire family in the car there’s a good chance that at least one family member isn’t covered by our auto insurance policy – and that’s the family pet. Pets generally aren’t considered by auto insurance companies when dealing with injury claims, but as any pet owner who’s had a pet injured in a car accident can tell you, injury treatment costs for pets are not cheap. Below we’ll take a look at pet injury coverage, where it’s generally found in auto insurance policies and how to ensure your pet is covered in a car accident.
Pet Insurance – Your Pet Might Already Be Covered
The most likely source of pet insurance coverage is through the other party’s Property Damage Liability insurance coverage. Don’t be offended, but pets are deemed to be ‘property’ by most auto insurance companies, and if a person has PDL coverage the insurer will most likely pay any legitimate claims for pet injuries. There are, however, a couple of caveats to this approach; first, you must be in a state that has ‘at fault’ or ‘tort’ insurance laws – otherwise, the other driver is unlikely to have PDL coverage in the first place. Next – you’ll need to be the victim of the accident, and not the party that caused it. Your own PDL coverage won’t protect any of the property in your car if you cause a crash, and that includes your pet.
If your state has ‘no fault’ insurance laws, it’s possible that your Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage will extend to your pet. PIP coverage, which covers the medical treatment and injury-related costs for the driver and their passengers when in a crash (regardless of who caused it) typically covers everyone in the car. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so if you have PIP coverage it’s worth a call to your insurer to see if they will cover any injury treatment or veterinary bills that result from your pet being hurt in an accident. Remember that PIP insurance only covers you and yours up to the maximum amount of coverage that you buy, so if you have a pet that’s typically quite expensive to treat or you’re worried that you won’t have enough PIP coverage for your whole family if you get in an accident, it may be worth purchasing additional coverage.
If you have collision insurance, it’s worth giving your auto insurance company a call to see whether or not pets are covered under this policy. For example, Progressive covers pets automatically under its collision coverage, with up to $1000 in medical treatment and veterinary costs allowed for any pet that’s injured in an accident. Many other insurance companies include pets under collision, comprehensive or other insurance policies although admittedly these are usually add-ons that aren’t required under state law and do add additional costs to your auto insurance bill.
Buying Pet Injury Coverage
Finally, if none of the above options cover pet injuries, your last resort is to purchase some form of additional insurance that will handle it. Auto insurance companies are in the business of insuring everything they can, so it’s highly likely that your insurer will have some form of policy that can be picked up to provide coverage for pet injuries. The policy itself almost always covers a bunch of other items that are unnecessary to you, such as coverage for things like artwork or other expensive items that you keep in the car with you. Don’t worry about trying to get rid of the rest of this stuff – it’s just additional insurance and it’s unlikely you’re going to convince your auto insurance company to give you a discount to just insure your pet.
Most of us treat our pets like members of the family, so it makes sense that we should have them covered in some way under our auto insurance policies. If you spend any time at all with your pet in the car, talk to your insurer to see what sort of options they have for covering pets. You may already have coverage that takes care of things, or you may end up having to purchase an add-on to your auto insurance that ends up costing a few dollars per month. Regardless, there’s no way that this cost will outweigh an expensive vet bill should Fido end up being injured in an accident. Pick up pet insurance coverage, just to be on the safe side.