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Pets and Insurance Coverage

Pets Everyone loves dogs, right? Not insurance companies. They do not like to cover anything they do not know about. For an insurance company, it is all about knowing what risks could be involved in insuring you and your property. If you have a dog, or are thinking about getting a dog, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company. Down the road if there is ever an incident involving your pet, your insurance company will not be able to cite non-disclosure as a reason to decline coverage.

Just like cars, different breeds of dogs may affect your premiums based on past performance. Historically, red cars are involved in more accidents and therefore the premiums are higher. Certain dog breeds are involved in biting incidents and others with property damage.

Before you jump to conclusions, small dogs have a higher rate of biting than large. Great Danes have a reputation for destroying drywall, but any dog frightened by thunder or fireworks could try to escape by any means possible. The damage caused by a determined St. Bernard would astonish you.

Children left alone with dogs they are not familiar with could lead to an unfortunate incident. Dogs do not like to be poked, prodded or dragged by children who think it is fun to play with your pet. Even the sweetest dog may reach its limit and take a bite out of its antagonist.

Heaven forbid your dog gets loose and causes an incident by running onto the road. Drivers instinctively swerve to avoid striking an animal. If your dog causes a driver to lose control of his/her vehicle and has a motor vehicle accident, you may be liable to that driver and any passengers for any injuries sustained in the accident.

Pets Cats are less likely to be an insurance risk but what about those reptiles? We have all heard about snakes who escape. The cost of the police having to hunt for the lost creature could be charged to the owner.

As a pet owner you are also required to comply with the Town by-laws regarding the number of pets you are permitted to have. Ajax has a three dogs and/or cats rule while Whitby limits you to two. Oshawa is the most generous with three dogs, six cats and two ferrets. Exceeding these limits and then submitting a claim for insurance damage could result in your insurer trying to void your policy and deny you coverage.

Many cities and towns have lists of prohibited animals. Before you purchase an exotic pet, you need to know if they are permitted in your area. Most insurance companies will not cover any claims that arise out of the ownership of a prohibited animal.

Do you know how your property is zoned and what your lot size is? Your property zoning and size will restrict your ownership of animals such as chickens or pigs. As a general rule of thumb if you want to have horses or any livestock you will need to have five acres of land and be zoned rural.

Pull out your insurance policy and check that it is up to date, including a notation that you are a pet owner. Being familiar with what your coverage entails could save a nasty surprise down the road. If you do not understand all the legalese in your policy documents, make an appointment to go over what is covered and what is not.

If you are involved in a dispute with your insurance company as a result of coverage declined because of a pet, contact us for a free consultation.