Third party liability insurance for dogs

Helping you to cover you against any public liability costs caused by your dog.

Cover for public liability caused by dogs

Third party liability cover or pet liability insurance is usually something that comes as standard in most dog insurance policies – it doesn’t cover cats – and offers you cover often up to £3,000,000 worth of cover.

Contents of this guide

What is third party liability insurance for dogs? 

Third party liability provides you added protection when you’re out and about with your dog and they injure or kill another person or another dog. Equally should they cause damage to another person’s property then this section of your policy can help.

The protection usually comes in three areas, helping you against costs against any vet bills needed by you or the claimant, legal fees should a claim be made against you, cost of damages should you be sued for compensation.

Generally speaking most insurers offer cover starting from around £1,000,000 and increasing from there depending upon the cover level that you choose.

Check the policy wording, your policy schedule or contact your insurer to find out for certain.

Why you might need third party liability cover?

Sometimes our dogs can get a little carried away or overexcited.

If your dog becomes aggressive towards someone or another dog that results in injury or even death then any resulting legal action and costs can be covered by third party liability.

However, the cover can also help you in cases that are non life threatening or aggressive, such as if your dog runs into someone, causing them to trip, fall or injure themselves then you might find yourself liable for any damages as a result of your dog’s actions.

Damage to another person’s property can also be covered, although there are some exceptions relating to your relationship with the person affected and the role that person has in regards to your pet. We’ll look more in depth at these exclusions later.

Is liability insurance for my dog already covered by my home insurance?

It is definitely worth double checking, but most home insurers do cover third party liability caused by your dog to someone else or someone else’s property. However, for home insurance policies the third party liability for pets is sometimes an option that you need to select, rather than being as standard as it is will almost all pet insurance plans.

Why does it only related to dogs?

Third party liability cover only ever protects dog owners. The reason for this is because cats are treated as as free and independent individuals who their owners are not legally responsible for, therefore any damage caused by cats is not the responsibility of the owner.

What’s the difference between third party liability and accidental damage?

Accidental damage is a section that you’ll find on some policies which covers either your cat or dog if they cause damage in someone else’s home (and in some cases your own). The important difference is the concept of being ‘invited in’. If you and your pet have been invited in to someone’s home then any damage caused by your pet once there will be classed as accidental damage. Find out more about accidental damage cover for pets.

Should the damage be caused somewhere where you have not been invited – like a public park for example – then any payments will come from the third party liability section of cover.

Which pet insurers offer third party liability?

Every UK pet insurer has at least one policy that includes third party liability cover. There are just 12 policies that don’t offer cover which are the accident only policies from PETTrac, Direct Line, Petguard, Perfect Pet and The Insurance Emporium. There are then a further 7 policies where the inclusion of third party liability is an option for you to select, these are offered by Vetsure.

Every other policy available (as of 15th February 2022) offers cover for third party liability with the lowest limit being £500,000 on MoreThan’s accident only policies up to £3,000,000 on John Lewis’ Premier cover.

Common exclusions and how to claim

When claiming under the third party liability section of your cover you’ll need to make sure that you don’t fall within any of the common exclusions which regularly include:

  • Dogs with a history of aggressive behaviour
  • Any dog on your insurers Excluded Breeds list
  • If the claim involves your employment or if an incident occurs at your workplace, including your home when being used as a workplace.
  • If your dog is being used for any trade, profession, or business.
  • The liability is to anyone who lives with you, is a member of your family, is employed by you or was looking after your dog on your behalf.

Equally, it is important to make sure that you follow the correct procedure when claiming to make sure that you don’t invalidate any successful claim before you start. This usually means:

  • You should notify your insurer as soon as possible after your pet is involved in an incident that may result in a third party liability claim.
  • You must not admit responsibility, incur any costs or negotiate with anyone following the incident unless you get express written agreement from your insurer.
  • Do not answer or respond to any legal documents from, or on behalf of, a third party. Instead forward them to your insurer as soon as possible.

Remember, that when claiming for third party liability claims your excess payment is usually more expensive than claims for standard vet fees. Often the excess is around £250.

How to avoid behavioural issues?

Whilst you can never be 100% sure what your dog will do in a given circumstance, adequate training, socialisation and mental and physical stimulation are key to ensuring that behavioural issues are kept at bay.

Socialise your dog with other pets and children

Getting your dog used to people and other pets from a young age is fundamental to ensuring they behave well around strangers, children, other animals and in unfamiliar environments. Starting whilst they are puppies (between 3-16 weeks old) should make life easier for you to instill those principles.

Leaving your pet alone

In a recent PDSA survey 28% of pet owners believed it was ok to leave their dog alone in the house for 6-10 hours per day. Whilst vets say it should be no longer than 4 hours. Before you decide to welcome a dog into your home, think carefully about how much time you can realistically spend with them to ensure that they don’t develop behavioural issues and get the love and attention from you that they deserve.

Providing adequate exercise

Did you know that nearly half a million dogs are never taken for a walk?

Every dog will benefit from getting out of the house and into the fresh air. In fact, lack of physical exercise is a contributing factor of behavioural issues and there’s a link between behavioural issues and pets being put down.