Car Insurers Eyeing Pet Coverage


Apparently, pets deserve the same treatment as their owners, even when it comes to insurance coverage.

pet-coverageMore and more auto insurance firms are offering coverage for pets involved in car-related accidents. At present, there are four insurers offering up to $1,000 to clients whose pets have sustained injury or worse, died, in car accidents.

Pet coverage gained a new boost when a local TV station showed a short news story about a resident who narrowly escaped a watery grave when the woman’s car was rear-ended into a canal. The CBS news crew was able to capture footage of the driver escaping her vehicle with her pet cat in tow. The cat was safely housed in a pet carrier.

The country’s third-largest auto insurer, Progressive, was the first insurance firm to offer pet accident coverage. That was in 2007. The company’s policy covers veterinarian expenses up to $1,000 for a dog or cat if they are injured in a vehicular accident. Progressive also offers coverage for pets owned by a relative as long as the family member lives with you.

For several insurers, pet loss or injury is classified under property losses.

However, there are certain limits on the coverage. Some providers will refuse to cover your pet’s injury if the accident is proven to be your fault. If it is found out, though, that you’re are not at fault, then the driver at fault and his insurance company can be held liable for your pet’s vet bill. Progressive, on the other hand, pays for your vet bills regardless of who’s at fault.

Despite the presence of similar insurance policies, it is always recommended that drivers place their pets in approved pet carriers to lessen the chance of injury in the event of an accident. Pet carriers also greatly reduce the risk of distraction to drivers.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles referred to a study conducted by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) which found out that 65 percent of near crashes and 80 percent of automobile crashes were caused by different forms of driver distraction. Loose pets roaming inside the cab of a vehicle can lead to driver distraction and potential accidents.

Interested drivers need to check with their insurers if accidents involving the presence of pets onboard are covered by their policy. According to an American Automobile Association (AAA) representative, AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, do not provide this sort of coverage.