Auto Insurance for Pets: a Growing Trend

January 28, 2010

As animal lovers, most of us take good care of our pets: we feed them the best pet food available, make sure they get ample exercise and attention, train them to have good “house manners,” and make sure they’re adequately restrained when coming along for the ride in our cars or trucks. Until relatively recently, though, if our pet dogs or cats were injured during a stint as passenger, they were only covered as part of the “personal property” allowance in auto insurance policies.

It’s only in the last few years that insurance companies began to question what happens when pets are injured in car accidents, and Progressive Insurance was the first to do something about it, by included pet coverage as an option on their auto policies.

Since Progressive’s trend-starting move, USA Today reports that three other insurers have jumped on the pet coverage bandwagon, offering insurance of $500-$1,000 for pets killed or injured in traffic accidents, all at no extra cost to their customers, and with almost 200 million licensed drivers across the country (according to numbers provided by the Federal Highway Administration), people like Lori Conarton of the Insurance Institute of Michigan believe the market will become more and more competitive. “If other companies find that people want this type of coverage,” Conarton said, “they’re going to want to start offering it, too.”

So which insurers offer pet accident coverage?

Progressive was the first, rolling out their options in sthe summer of 2007. Miriam Dietcher, the company’s director of marketing explains, “We did it because we know how much our customers love their dogs and cats,” Deitcher says. “At first we provided $500 worth of coverage, but in March [2009], we increased that to $1,000, to make sure we’re covering even more.”

Auto-Owners Insurance and Farmers Insurance also offer coverage for pets injured in traffic accidents. “We estimate more than 63% of our customers have pets, and caring for them after an accident can be expensive,” said Farmers senior vice president Brian Dwyer.

And what about people whose insurance is with a carrier that does not offer pet policies? They can still file a claim under property damage, but it’s important to remember that what insurance companies consider legitimate property damage differs from state to state and insurer to insurer, and it’s not at all unusual for such claims to be denied.