Pets (dogs, cats, etc.): what does the liability guarantee cover?


Insure your pets to anticipate possible events Photo Credit: GettyImages

Pet owners are legally responsible for this. In the event of damage, they may be covered by the civil liability guarantee included in their multi-risk home insurance. In what situations? Which animals are affected? What happens if you leave your animal to a third party? It is important to anticipate a possible incident.

Summary:

  • Summary

  • Civil liability and pets

  • What happens if you give custody of your pet?

  • Claim your insurance in case of damage caused by your animal

  • Which animals are covered by the liability guarantee?

  • The special case of so-called “dangerous” dogs

Summary

Civil liability and pets

What happens if you give custody of your pet?

Claim your insurance in case of damage caused by your animal

Which animals are covered by the liability guarantee?

The special case of so-called “dangerous” dogs

Civil liability and pets

According to the Civil Code, the owner or the person responsible for the animal is responsible for any damage caused by the animal. This responsibility is valid even if the animal has strayed or fled. In other words, you are legally responsible for any kind of damage caused, whether it is material (furniture, carpets, clothes, garden) or bodily (bites, scratches).

Injuries caused by pets can be covered by the civil liability guarantee included in all multi-risk home insurance contracts. However, this insurance only covers third parties and does not cover damage caused to “persons mentioned in the contract” (you, your spouse, your children) or their property.

Specifically, if your dog tears your new sofa to pieces, your insurance company will not compensate you. It will be the same if he bites a family member. In this case, your home insurance will not cover health care costs and you will not be covered for potential moral or aesthetic damage. To cover the members of the household, you must take out an insurance option or extension: Life Accident Guarantee (GAV), individual accident guarantee, family protection, etc.

Ask your insurance company, because the term “family” is different from one contract to another. Certain contracts take, for example, the responsibility of the rising, or the relatives of the insured who does not live under his roof.

What happens if you give custody of your pet?

If you leave your animal with a relative, neighbor or friend for several days, the law is considered a “transfer of responsibility” to the person who has the temporary custody of it. This person is then considered to be legally liable in the event of an accident or injury. Therefore, own liability insurance is taken out. This is all the more true if you leave your pet to a professional (kennel, personal service company or veterinary clinic), the latter must be covered by adequate insurance and be able to give you a certificate.

Therefore, be careful if you welcome the animal of a relative or if you leave your own. Some insurance contracts only cover damage caused by the animal owned by the insured. The concept of transfer of responsibility only applies after a certain period. If a neighbor takes your dog for a walk or feeds your cat while you are away, you remain legally responsible for your pet.

Claim your insurance in case of damage caused by your animal

If your dog bites the neighbors, destroys their garden or tears their clothes to pieces, your liability insurance will replace them. As with any claim, both parties must make a statement and send it to their insurance company within 5 days of the accident. Depending on the size of the damage, an expert may be ordered. The victim must keep the invoices and all useful elements: photos, testimony … However, some contracts allow for a deductible, although this type of claim does not impose any fine on the owner of the pet.

In the event of bodily injury (bite, injury, etc.), you must make a statement to your insurance company and the injured party will in turn receive a questionnaire in which he must elaborate on all the bodily, aesthetic, moral and financial damages. Your insurer can ask a medical adviser to confirm the damage and determine the amount of compensation. If the victim files a complaint, the compensation is suspended until the criminal decision. You incur up to 3 years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros, which of course remains your responsibility.

For each bite, report the incident to City Hall and have your dog examined three times by a veterinarian over a 15-day period. The goal is to verify that he is not a carrier of rabies.

You may be released from your liability if you provide evidence that the victim threatened or agitated the animal. This is also the case if you succeed in proving that a third party has caused the accident by e.g. to open the door for your dog.

Which animals are covered by the liability guarantee?

In addition to dogs and cats, insurance policies generally cover rodents (hamsters, mice, dwarf rabbits), birds (parrots, canaries, pigeons), aquarium fish or even certain turtles. They can also take care of goats, chickens or sheep under certain conditions (limitation of the number of animals or maximum grazing area). Each company has its own list and it is sometimes mandatory to declare certain animals. Therefore, always make sure to notify your insurance company, he will be able to specify the limits of warranty and exceptional coverage.

Your home insurance does not cover damage caused by your animals in connection with a professional or commercial activity (eg sale or exhibition). It is then necessary to take out a professional liability insurance. Similarly, if you engage in a sporting activity with an animal (such as sled dog racing or horse racing), any damage caused is covered by the insurance taken out under your sports license.

To know

If you are a hunter, you should take out liability insurance dedicated to this practice for your dog.

What legislation for NAC (New Pets)?

Having a NAC is subject to regulation. The administration distinguishes between two types of NAC: domestic species (rodents, fish, birds, farm animals, etc.) and non-domestic species (primates, reptiles, spiders, scorpions, etc.). To keep one of these, depending on the species, you need to make a statement to the prefecture or even get a certificate of maintenance capacity. It is strictly forbidden to import, buy or possess certain species. On the insurance side, non-domestic NACs are generally excluded from the home insurance civil liability guarantee.

The special case of so-called “dangerous” dogs

Certain types of dogs are generally excluded from the civil liability included in multi-risk home insurance:

  • Attack dogs (category 1, especially pit bull).

  • Guard or Defense Dogs (Category 2: American Staffordshire, Rottweiler, Mastiff, Tosa).

Possession of these dogs is subject to strict rules. Your master must be of legal age and have a detention permit. This is issued on presentation of an evaluation of the dog’s behavior, a training certificate for the handler and various certificates (identification, sterilization, rabies vaccination, etc.). It is mandatory to have a liability insurance for dog handlers in category 1 or 2. If this is your case, contact your insurance company to take out an extension of the warranty or a specific insurance contract. In case of damage caused to third parties, family members are considered as such here.

Theft of your pet

Apart from exceptions, the multi-risk home contract provides no compensation in case of theft of your animal.

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