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Don’t Forget Fido: Auto Insurance for Your Pet

Small dog with carFor many motorists, pets are an essential part of the family, and they’re also frequent passengers in the car. But, unfortunately, most cars are not designed with animal safety in mind. In an accident, dogs and cats can suffer injuries just like people, and veterinarian bills can be very expensive. When looking for an insurance policy, people with four-legged companions might want to consider choosing an insurer that can offer a little extra pet-friendly protection.

​Insurers Offering Coverage for Pets

Vehicle coverage that includes pet injuries has become a feature of policies offered by several insurers.

Progressive, the insurer that’s known for helping people get insurance online, has led the way in providing protection for cats and dogs that are injured in automobile accidents. When policyholders purchase collision coverage, it comes with up to $1,000 of protection that Progressive will pay toward vet bills in the event that an animal companion is injured in an accident, according to the company. This also includes injuries to a dog or cat that is owned by a relative who is living in the same household as the policyholder. The coverage is not yet available in North Carolina or New Hampshire, however.

Farmers Insurance Group in 2008 began offering coverage for pets injured in auto accidents, but only in select states. The protection is limited to traditional family pets and does not include animals that are commonly kept for food or profit. Where available, it provides up to $600 worth of coverage and is included for no extra charge in policies that include both comprehensive and collision, according to a press release from the insurer.

The Chubb Group launched pet injury coverage in select states in February 2011, adding up to $2,000 in coverage for pets injured in crashes to its “Masterpiece Auto Preference” policy.

Even though the prevalence of pet injury coverage is growing, not every insurer offers it. The country’s second-largest insurer, Allstate, says on its website that pets are not covered under its auto policies. (Other large insurers like State Farm and GEICO did not have pet injury coverage info available on their sites.)

Dogs and Cats Mean Distracted Drivers

The reason why animal owners are encouraged to get insurance that includes pet injury coverage is that four-legged family members can be serious distractions while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2008 over 5,800 people lost their lives and another 515,000 people were injured as the result of automobile accidents involving distracted drivers. Driving with an unrestrained dog in the car could have dangerous and financially devastating consequences.

To reduce the chances of having to actually use any newly acquired pet injury insurance, drivers should take the necessary steps to reduce driver distraction while behind the wheel. An unrestrained cat or dog can easily wander around a car with potentially dangerous consequences. If a dog wedges itself under the driver’s legs, it could prevent braking and easily cause an accident.

To avoid this, owners are strongly encouraged to restrain their animals while driving by investing in specially designed harnesses that allow dogs to be quickly attached to the vehicle’s seat belts. Additionally, investing in wire cages or plastic crates can also be effective ways to prevent animals from wandering around the car. Because pets are a part of the family, it’s important to keep them safe while on the open road.

Source: http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/