I have been reading worrying stories about fatal dog attacks in Britain, particularly those of the ‘XL Bully’ breed.
I also own a dog, a four-year-old dog, Max, who is a very sweet and gentle dog.
But it seems that the issue of dogs biting people is very much on everyone’s minds.
I want to be responsible and prepare for the worst case scenario: Max biting someone. Is it possible to take out insurance that covers the cost of a dog bite? Via email
You decide: Dog insurance is not mandatory for most breeds, unlike car coverage
This is Money’s Sam Barker responds: The recent tragic dog attacks have certainly put the problem of aggressive dogs and irresponsible owners in the spotlight.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said this week that the popular XL Bully breed could be banned after a dog attack in Birmingham.
While your own dog is among the vast majority of canines that are perfectly friendly, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
While the emotional impact of a dog bite cannot be assured, the financial impact to the dog owner can be.
So the short answer to your question is yes, you can get insurance against the cost of your dog biting another person, and in fact, it’s included as standard in 90 percent of pet insurance offers.
This type of insurance is called civil liability. In the context of pet insurance, this typically covers any compensation you may have to pay if your dog attacks someone and a court finds you legally responsible.
It is also paid if your dog accidentally damages something outside your home, for example someone’s property.
Insurers tend to pay a maximum of £500,000 to £10 million for liability claims depending on the policy, according to financial data firm Defaqto.
Defaqto found that 419 of 467 dog insurance offers available, or 90 percent, include liability as standard.
There are 22 dog insurance deals that can be upgraded to include liability and 20 that don’t cover liability at all.
So if you currently have pet insurance, check the fine print; The same if you don’t have it but are thinking about buying a policy.
Not all civil liability covers dog bites
But even policies with liability may not pay claims if your dog bites someone.
Firstly, although most insurers offer liability as standard, some reserve the right to withdraw that coverage if your dog is aggressive.
For example, insurance documents from the UK’s largest pet insurer, PetPlan, say the company may “limit or eliminate liability cover from the outset of your policy based on your pet’s veterinary and behavioral history.” “.
The insurer may also ‘limit or eliminate third-party liability’ based on behavior such as ‘aggressive tendencies’ when renewing one of its Covered For Life, Classic, Classic Plus, Ultimate or Pet Insurance policies.
Pet insurers typically do not pay if your dog attacks you, your family members, or anyone who works for you, or if a dog attack is related to your work.
Not allowed: the Dogo Argentino is one of four dog breeds banned in the UK
Dog insurance may be mandatory
Typically, dog insurance is the owner’s decision.
But if you have a dog that belongs to one of the four breeds banned in the UK, you must take out at least third-party insurance.
The Dangerous Dog Law prohibits four breeds: the American pit bull terrier, the Japanese tosa, the Argentine dogo and the Brazilian fila.
Owners of prohibited dogs can automatically have them removed by police unless they have a court-issued lifetime exemption certificate to prove their dog does not pose a risk to the public.
Civil liability is a requirement to obtain one of these exemption certificates.
Other requirements include being muzzled and leashed in public, being neutered, microchipped, and kept in a safe home.
On the watch list: The American pit bull terrier is also banned in the UK 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 prohibited dog breeds, while some go even further.
For example, Kennel Club Pet Insurance will not cover 16 dog breeds, including American Bullies and Pit Bull Terriers, nor will it cover any dog crossed with one of the 16 breeds on its prohibited list or any dog crossed with a wolf.
Angela Pilley, pet insurance expert at Defaqto, said: “Each individual insurer will have their own list of excluded breeds for which they will not provide any element of cover.” This differs from provider to provider.
“Typically, at a minimum, the excluded breeds will be those required to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act or an animal crossed or mixed with any of these breeds, but some supplier lists are much longer.”
You have a hunting dog, which does not belong to the prohibited breeds, but is a sighthound crossed with a working dog breed.
However, some pet insurers do not offer liability for dogs that hunt, compete, are used as security or participate in hare racing, so if your dog fits into any of these categories, you may need specialist cover.
Allianz UK, owner of PetPlan, declined to comment. Kennel Club Pet Insurance has been contacted for comment.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them, we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.