Third Party Liability Cover
The reassurance of Third Party Insurance
Following on from the Government’s consultation on dangerous dogs announcement, Petplan the UK’s largest pet insurance provider has revealed a rise in the number of third party claims received over recent years. It would seem that more and more people are turning to the courts to seek financial compensation when problems arise – leaving dog owners that don’t have third party liability insurance with a huge financial risk.
The amount of claims paid out by Petplan on third party cases involving dogs in 2008 (the last complete year for which figures are available) was almost £2 million in liability claims for household dogs which represents an increase of almost 500% since 1999.
Although Petplan’s business has grown substantially during this period, accounting for some of the increase, there is no doubt that the issue of third party liability is becoming more important in its own right. Instead of an optional extra, cover is now an essential part of any dog insurance policy.
Recognising this, all of Petplan’s dog policies automatically include third party liability in addition to cover for vet bills, complementary treatment, boarding fees and emergency repatriation.
Successful claims can be brought against dog owners who can be proven legally liable for the injury, illness or death of a third party occurring as a result of an incident in which the animal is involved. Without third party liability insurance dog owners, may find themselves paying compensation and costs awarded against them or a hefty legal bill to defend the claim.
Claims paid out by Petplan have included an incident where an over protective border-collie chased a postman from his garden. Although the dog did not cause any actual injury, in his rush to escape from the garden the postman fell over a low wall, injuring his back. Damages for personal injury, loss of earnings and the legal fees of both the third party and the client amounted to £60,000.
In another case an owner was walking his Rhodesian Ridgeback insured by Petplan. On excitement at seeing someone coming the other way the dog jumped up at an old lady, knocking her to the ground and causing her to break her wrist and her hip. Damages for that claim amounted to nearly £40,000.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about these claims which could happen to anyone at any time. Petplan receives claims where dogs have bitten someone or have run across roads causing accidents resulting in thousands of pounds being paid out in compensation. A high price to pay if you do not have any third party insurance.
“One of the reasons we are seeing this escalation in third party liability claims is because we are becoming an increasingly litigious society,” said Alison Andrew, Petplan Marketing Manager. “The public in general is more aware of their legal recourse to recover damages when they feel they have been injured or aggrieved in some way.”
“This reinforces the need for any dog owner to have a comprehensive insurance policy which will help them defend a claim or pay damages awarded against them. Owners who believe that their household insurance covers them for third party liability in the event of an incident with their dog should check the small print carefully. With a decline in the number of households owning dogs, this cover is less frequently included.”
Third party liability insurance means dog owners are covered if property is damaged, or someone is killed, injured or falls ill as a result of an incident involving their dog. They will also be covered for compensation and costs awarded against them by a court and the legal cost and expenses for defending a claim against them.