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From a broken sofa to a car accident – pets can cause damage. Even peaceful dogs can show unpredictable behavior in stressful situations. As a dog owner, you are liable in full for any damages incurred. A dog liability takes over such claims for damages.
In the following article, you will find out why a dog’s liability makes sense, what services it covers and why it should be compulsory for every dog.
Max, a boisterous dog, likes to romp about. If his master Sandro plays with him on the lawn in the park, he always has to throw the tennis balls extra far and then Max brings them back. But recently he overlooked a girl on inline skates and overrun. The girl fell, fell on her knee and had to be taken to the hospital. The private liability insurance does not cover the costs in this case. Without dog liability Sandro would have to take as his master now deep into the bag.
Why is a dog liability reasonable?
Damage caused by dogs happened quickly. By the provisions of the Civil Code (BGB) in § 823 (liability for damages) Sandro is in principle obliged to be liable for all damages caused by Max, as his dog . This has significant consequences, because he has to replace the damage in full. There is no upper liability limit. Not only his present but also all future assets are used. This can have far-reaching financial consequences, especially if, as in this case, a person is injured. The claims for damages resulting from medical and therapeutic measures, loss of earnings and compensation for pain and suffering can easily amount to millions.
What is the strict liability?
As a dog owner, Sandro bears the responsibility for his animal and therefore has the duty of supervision. But even well behaved dogs like Max sometimes show unpredictable behavior under special circumstances. So there remains a residual risk that there is a danger to passers-by, cars, cyclists, etc. If damage then arises, Sandro is liable under the strict liability. This is regulated in § 833 BGB. Although Sandro has not personally caused the damage, he must stand up for the deeds of his dog.
Why a personal liability insurance is insufficient
The personal liability insurance does not cover damage caused by your own dog . In the case of personal liability, friendships such as the guarding of foreign dogs may be secured. This is the case, for example, when Sandro goes on holiday with the family and the neighbors take care of Max for a few days. In this case, there is an insurance cover by the liability if the dog escapes them while walking and for example brings down a cyclist.
However, the private liability of neighbors must include this service, otherwise they are without insurance coverage. Instead of trusting that the personal liability insurance of all friends, acquaintances and neighbors to cover a corresponding performance, the dog liability is the better alternative: To ensure that your social environment does not bear the financial risk of a friendship service.
For whom is the dog liability reasonable?
Basically, the dog liability protects the holder of the respective dog . But all those who take care of the dog at times are also covered. If the neighbor walks occasionally with the dog Gassi, she would be liable for all damages caused by the dog during this time. Therefore, liability insurance for dogs also protects family members, friends, acquaintances and neighbors who occasionally take care of the dog . This is especially important if their personal liability does not cover the care of foreign dogs. Otherwise, there is no insurance cover for these persons.
The legal obligation to dog liability
In some federal states there is the legal regulation that every dog owner must have a dog owner insurance. It does not matter if it’s a small or a big dog. No matter if Chihuahua, French Bulldog, Pug, Yorkshire Terrier or Labrador, German Shepherd or Bernese Mountain Dog: here dog is like a dog. In addition, specific rules apply to certain breeds considered to be particularly dangerous. Then not only a liability insurance for these dogs duty, but also a muzzle and a leash. This is to reduce the risk that the dog bites or unpredictably moves in public.
Dog liability: What is insured?
A dog liability usually covers personal injury, damage to property and property that the dog causes.
Which additional benefits are covered depends on the respective policy:
- Lease damage : The cost of damage to rented objects
- Stay abroad: Damage caused by your dog on a holiday abroad
- Corridor damage: For example, damage in gardens, front gardens, fields, forests and cemeteries
- Unwanted deck damage
- Co-insurance of the offspring: Puppies are insured free of charge for a few months after birth
Unwanted deck damage happens easily
It is also worthwhile to look carefully into the contractual conditions when hedging unwanted cover damage . This refers to costs that arise when a female animal is unintentionally covered by a male dog. Dog owners whose dogs have caused cover damage are required by law to bear the associated costs. For example, it may be necessary to pay for the abortion or rearing of puppies that are not originally scheduled. Possibly a breeding bitch is also not available for a limited period of time, which may result in further consequential costs if the owner of the bitch fails to earn income from breeding successes.
What is not insured with a dog liability?
Not covered are basically damage to own belongings . If your dog destroys the upholstery of your sofa, the dog liability does not break. The same applies to all damage to relatives who live in the same household. If your dog bites your child and it needs to be treated in the hospital, your dog insurance does not cover the costs. Also, damage caused by intent, will not be replaced.
For commercial dogs there is usually an exclusion clause. Hunting dogs, herding dogs, guard dogs, etc. must be protected by a separate liability insurance.
Keepers of fighting dogs will also find it difficult to find a liability for their dog. Many insurers have a list of dog breeds that they do not insure. Fighting dogs are considered particularly dangerous and the risk of causing damage is considered high. Some insurers have responded: For a deductible they take over the insurance. Other companies offer special combat dog liability.
Be sure to include rent damage
Lease damage is not always guaranteed. These are such damages caused by the dog to rented things. If this point is missing, there are two areas without insurance coverage: rental apartments and hotel rooms . If the dog destroys a front door of the fitted kitchen in a holiday apartment, the costs will not be borne. The same applies if your dog tears down the television in the holiday resort, where you are vacationing with the whole family. You then have to pay the damages yourself.
Advantages of a dog owner liability insurance
Liability insurance for dogs not only carries the financial risk of certain damages and covers costs for which you would otherwise have to be private. The insurance benefits also include a detailed examination of the reported claims . If this proves that the claim for damages is justified, the dog liability insurance will settle the necessary payments to the injured party.
Defense against unjustified claims
A dog liability always includes the so-called “passive legal protection” . This means that the insurer fights claims for damages that he considers unjustified. If the dispute with a victim ends in court, the dog liability assumes all costs, including the costs of lawyers and experts, but also the necessary court and travel costs, for example, for witnesses.
What should be the insurance sum of the liability for my dog?
Stiftung Warentest recommends a minimum insurance sum of 5 million euros for liability insurance. Since personal injury can be very expensive, the dog liability is better in comparison, which includes a higher sum insured. We also recommend a cover of 5 million euros , ideally 10 million euros. The sum insured should be agreed as a lump sum so that the entire sum is available in the event of a claim.
Which period makes sense for the dog liability?
You need a personal liability insurance for each dog . So, if you get a dog as a gift or buy a kitten and your kids bring a cute tramp from the shelter, you’ll need a dog’s bond. This applies from the time you become a keeper. The dog liability should then exist throughout the life of the dog. With the death of the dog and the corresponding liability insurance expires.
An exception is puppy . These are included in many insurance policies in the first months of life in the dog liability of the mother. At the latest from the 6th month of life, the puppies need their own dog owner liability insurance.
Conclusion: For all companions on four paws complete a dog liability
Your dog should be insured! Because it can always happen something, even with the dearest family dogs like Max, who was previously considered to be completely reliable and obedient. The German Animal Welfare Association, the umbrella organization of German animal protection associations and animal shelters, also strongly encourages all owners to take out liability insurance for their dogs.
With a dog liability you are covered in all claims that your dog causes. Make sure that you insure a sum insured of at least 5 million euros . It is also recommended to insure damages on foreign leave or rented property. Inform yourself beforehand which services are included and which costs are due to you. The biggest risks can already be hedged with a basic tariff. In comparison, the comfort rates often include a higher sum insured and additional benefits such as unwanted cover damage or the co-insurance of puppies in the first few months of life.