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

I have read worrying stories of fatal dog attacks in Britain – especially those of the ‘XL Bully’ breed.

I am a dog owner myself – of a four year old lurcher, Max, a very sweet and gentle dog.

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

I want to take responsibility and prepare for the worst scenario in which Max ever bites someone. Is it possible to get insurance that covers the costs of a dog bite? Via email

You decide: Dog insurance is not mandatory for most breeds, unlike car coverage

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

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

Although your own dog is among the vast majority of dogs that are completely friendly, it doesn’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.

So the short answer to your question is: yes, you can get insurance to cover the costs if your dog bites someone else – and in fact this is included as standard in 90 percent of pet insurance policies.

This form of insurance is called legal liability. Under pet insurance, this will normally cover any compensation you have to pay if your dog attacks someone and the court finds you legally liable.

It also pays out 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 third-party liability claims, depending on the policy, according to financial data company Defaqto.

Defaqto found that 419 of the 467 available dog insurance policies, or 90 percent, included standard third-party liability.

There are 22 dog insurance policies that can be expanded to include third-party liability, and 20 that do not cover this at all.

So if you currently have pet insurance, check the fine print – even if you don’t have it but are thinking about getting a policy.

Not all legal liability covers dog bites

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

Firstly, while most insurers offer public liability as standard, some reserve the right to withdraw that 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 public liability cover from the inception of your policy based on your pet’s veterinary and behavioral history.”

The insurer may also ‘limit or remove liability to third parties’ based on behavior such as ‘aggressive tendencies’ when you renew one of its Covered For Life, Classic, Classic Plus, Ultimate or Pet Insurance policies.

Pet insurers will not normally pay out if your dog attacks you, your family members or anyone else who works for you, or if a dog attack is related to what you do for work.

Not allowed: The Dogo Argentino is one of four dog breeds banned in Great Britain

Not allowed: The Dogo Argentino is one of four dog breeds banned in Great Britain

Dog insurance may be mandatory

Normally, dog insurance is a decision made by the owner.

But if you own a dog that is one of the four banned breeds in Britain, you will need to at least take out third party insurance for it.

The Dangerous Dogs Act bans 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 lifetime exemption certificate from a court to prove their dog does not pose a danger to the public.

Legal liability is a requirement to obtain one of these exemption certificates.

Other requirements include that he wear a muzzle and be kept on a leash in public, be neutered and microchipped, and be kept in a secure home.

On the watchlist: The American pit bull terrier is also banned in Britain and is one of the breeds behind the controversial Bully XL

On the watchlist: The American pit bull terrier is also banned in Britain and is one of the breeds behind the controversial Bully XL

Insurers may refuse to cover some breeds

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

For example, Kennel Club Pet Insurance does not cover 16 dog breeds, including American Bullies and pit bull terriers, nor does it cover any dog ​​crossed with one of the 16 breeds on the banned list or any dog ​​crossed with a wolf.

Angela Pilley, pet insurance expert at Defaqto, said: ‘Each individual insurer has their own list of excluded breeds for which they do not offer any cover. This varies per provider.

‘Normally excluded breeds that require registration under the Dangerous Dogs Act or an animal that has been crossed or mixed with one of these breeds are, but some providers’ lists are much more extensive.’

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

However, some pet insurers do not provide legal liability for dogs that hunt, race, are used for security or participate in hare coursing. If your dog falls into one of these categories, you may need specialist cover.

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

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