Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dogs Hit by Car?

Dog owners bear responsibility for damage done to a car if their pet runs into the street, is struck, and damage to the vehicle results. This legal reasoning rests on the premise that the owner should have kept the dog adequately restrained by a leash or fence. The liability portion of a homeowners insurance policy covers any damage your dog causes by entering the roadway, provided the owner is legally responsible.

In most cases, the owner of the dog is responsible because the law presumes the dog ran into traffic with the right of way, and the driver could not avoid the darting animal. Often, animals leap onto the road from tall grass or run in front of vehicles, giving the driver inadequate time to slow down or stop. Dogs simply misunderstand the concept of crossing streets safely and are, therefore, a hazard when loose.

However, in rare cases, a properly restrained dog could be struck by an errant driver. For example, if a drunk driver ran a red light and struck a dog being walked on a leash by its owner. The liability for damages in these exceptional cases could be in dispute.

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What About Veterinary Treatment for the Dog?

Unfortunately, homeowners insurance policies provide no coverage for veterinary bills for dogs injured by vehicles. The liability provision pays when a dog causes an accident, so a claim only covers damage caused by the dog, not damage to the dog. 

Are Other Dog Liability Issues Covered?

Homeowners insurance liability provisions cover dog bites. For example, if your dog escaped from your yard and bit a pedestrian, any liability you would incur from the incident is covered by homeowner’s insurance minus your deductible. Dog bite injuries can lead to expensive hospital bills and require surgeries, so this coverage can be valuable.

What Other Liability Issues Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners insurance provides liability coverage for incidents that occur on the policyholder’s property and away from home. Because homeowners insurance protects the insured from liability, industry pros often describe homeowners liability coverage as “going with” the policyholder wherever he or she travels.

On Property Liability

Homeowners face the prospect of liability if anyone suffers injury on the insured property. For instance, a guest may slip and fall on a front yard walkway, sustaining knee trauma. The injury could require expensive medical care and physical therapy, inconvenience, lost income, and pain and suffering. 

The accident victim could bring suit against the homeowner for all these damages. In that case, homeowners insurance would pay the settlement and legal fees.

Off-Property Liability

In addition to dog bites that occur off property, homeowners insurance shields policyholders from many legal claims, such as a bicycle accident. For example, if you are riding your bike and collide with a pedestrian, causing injury to the other party, your homeowners insurance policy would cover any legal liability minus your deductible.

Homeowners insurance provides financial protection and peace of mind if you own a dog. The liability provision of the policy covers damages caused by your pet, ensuring you are not on the hook for damages if your dog collides with a vehicle. In addition, you are protected if a liability claim results from your dog biting another person. Protection for liability caused by your dog is an excellent example of the versatile protection provided by homeowners insurance.

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