Does your home insurance cover pet damage?

Pet damage
Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

If you come home to find the family pooch chewing through the leg of your prized antique chair, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to claim for pet damage if you only have standard home insurance.

A very limited number of insurers offer cover that includes accidental damage caused by pets, but the vast majority don’t.

Why get accidental damage cover for pets?

Accidental damage is generally included as standard in more expensive policies, and is there to protect your home’s contents from unintentional events such as breakage and spillage.

But if you want your policy to include pets, you’re going to have to seek out one of the few insurers who will extend cover to include our furry friends.

It can be worth it. Recent industry figures showed that last year pets such as dogs, cats and rabbits were responsible for an average of nearly £700 worth of damage.

Usually you have to request what’s known as ‘extended’ accidental damage for a pet or pets to be included. It many cost you more, but may be worth it if you have an unruly pet that’s prone to causing chaos and problems!

What’s included and what’s excluded

Policies the include pets should cover your for an animal knocking something over, causing spillages, chewing, scratching and generally damaging things with their paws, teeth and claws. You should also be covered for third party liability; so if your dog attacks and injures someone, any damages that you’re deemed liable to pay (which could run into the hundreds of thousands) will be covered.

However, as pets are so unpredictable, even if they’re well trained, there are plenty of pet behaviours which will be excluded.

Here are the major exclusions and things to look out for when considering extended accidental damage:

Low damage limits

Maximum claims for damage by pets can be set very low, and generally won’t exceed £1,000.

Vomiting, fouling (defecating) or urinating

As such actions are highly common among our four-legged friends, they’re nearly always excluded.

Home alone

If a pet is left on its own at home, without an owner or other adult present, you may find a claim won’t stand.

Damage to cars

Again, if a pet is left unattended in a car, and goes berserk, it’s likely the claimant will be seen as acting negligently and a claim won’t stand.

Age of your pet

If your dog or cat is under a certain age, usually 6 to 8 weeks old, any damage it causes will be excluded.

Pet type

There are plenty of breeds, especially for dogs such as American pit bull terriers, which will be excluded.

Preventing pet damage

Owners are expected to take reasonable, on-going measures to prevent their pets doing damage. Even if you don’t want to go to the effort and expense of training your dog to a high standard of behaviour, you might want to consider keeping you pets occupied and happy with chew toys, scratch posts, regular walks and companionship.

Dogs make people feel safer, but they can slash a home’s value!

Keeping a dog certainly helps householders feel they’re safer and less likely to be broken into, but it can cause major problems when it comes to selling a home. Those are the findings of a recent survey by insurance broker Policy Expert which asked its customer base a number of questions about dog ownership and keeping pets in the home. However, pet-ownership isn’t all positive, the research reveals. Dogs may act as a good deterrent for potential intruders, but it appears that owning one, or indeed other pets such as cats, can make those potentially buying or renting a property less likely to do so. They can also damage a property which would have implications for your home insurance and whether you can claim for it or not.

Dog owners feel safer and less likely to be broken into

Among the dog owners who took part in the survey 41% say they feel much safer because they have a dog, while 29% think it makes them feel a bit safer. Another 29% say it doesn’t make any difference to their feelings of security at all. Reflecting the feeling of extra safety that goes with dog ownership, just over three-quarters, 75%, are certain it also makes their home less likely to be broken into in the first place. However not all are so sure and 15% actually think having a dog makes no difference to whether a burglar decides to target their home or not.

Faith in man’s best friend

When it comes to deterrence, most dog owners believe their pet pooch would at least bark, if not actually attack, an intruder in the home. A large majority, 75%, say their dog would bark at an intruder and 5% think it would actually attack an intruder. Unfortunately, clearly not all have such faith in their four-legged mobile house-alarm: almost one in eight believe their dog would simply make friends with the intruder! A very small minority, just over 1%, think their dog is so apathetic to what’s going on around it that it would ignore the intruder, and 6% aren’t at all sure what their dog would do.

Dogs and other pets can put off buyers and renters

One downside of dog and pet ownership, however, seems to be that it could reduce the value of a home on the open market. This is clearly something very much to consider for those who have pets and who are considering selling or renting out their property! The survey shows that among all respondents, pet owners or otherwise, 80% would be put off buying or renting a home if there was a smell of pets in the property. Of these, 38% say that the smell would have to be ‘very strong’ for it to affect their decision.

Likewise, if you own a dog it could also impact on the value of your neighbour’s house; just over one in eight say that the presence of a dog in an adjacent home would put them off buying or renting a property, while 15% aren’t sure if it would or not. Many people’s aversion to the smell pets can create is also reflected by the 25% who say they have at some point avoided visiting someone’s home because of pet odours.

(Article source: Policy Expert)

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