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Pets and Protection: The Right Insurance for Animal Owners

Woman and a dog in the park

As a nation, we're obsessed with our pets. We rescued animals from shelters in record numbers during the pandemic, and now nearly 85 million homes in the United States (67%) can claim a furry, feathered or finned friend—the highest rate of pet ownership ever recorded.

Last year, Americans spent nearly $99 billion on care and feeding of our animals (and sometimes that investment comes back to us—a top pet Instagram influencer can claim up to $32,000 per post!). But the great rewards of having unconditional pet love come with some risk. Do you have the right insurance for accidental damage?

How Animals Affect Your Insurance

In the unfortunate situation that your furry friends cause damage to your property, destroy items or cause injury, Westfield has a policy that can help recover costs. If you're wondering how much trouble your pet can cause when it comes to insurance claims, below are some scenarios to consider.:

Broken items: The puppy didn't mean to knock over that expensive antique vase—he was just as surprised that it broke as you were. If it happened in your home, unless you have insurance for accidental damage to a valuable item (often called a rider) or special personal property coverage, you're probably out of luck in getting the vase replaced. But if you were visiting someone else, you're likely covered with homeowner's liability insurance.

Damage to structures: Letting the parrot out of her cage to explore your home seemed like a good idea, until she destroyed your wicker settee by pulling it apart with her beak. Sadly, the furniture damage isn't covered with a regular homeowner's policy unless you add domestic pet coverage. Now, if a wild bird slammed into your window and cracked it, that glass replacement likely would be covered.

Injury: The cat ambushed the delivery person, resulting in a scratch that required stitches. Yes, homeowner's liability insurance usually covers this (but you may want to keep kitty inside after such an incident). If you're in the park for your nightly walk and your dog bites someone, the bad news is that they got bit, but the better news is that your homeowner's insurance also likely covers their claim, depending on the dog breed and if they have bitten before.

Auto: Maybe you didn't drive much during the pandemic lockdown or went out of town and left the car parked. When you came home and it didn't start, you realized that a rat family chose your vehicle for their new home. While they're not technically "pets," they chewed the wires and built a nest, resulting in expensive, extensive repairs. The upside here is that your auto insurance can help cover costs. If you're in a place where this is likely to happen again, you also might think about deploying rodent-repelling tactics, such as honking your horn (briefly) when you start the car; parking in a more secure location if possible; and using sensory aversion products, such as ultrasonic frequency devices, coating the wires with peppermint spray or wrapping them with special "hot chili powder tape."

Vet bills: It's rare to receive a vet bill and not be shocked. Pet insurance may mitigate some of the surprise, but like any investment, you'll have to weigh what you spend vs. what you'll get back. But what if your pet is hurt in an auto accident? You may be able to add this into your insurance to make sure your pet is safe while sitting next to you in the car.

Large animals: The cost to love and keep a horse is, in some cases, more dear than owning a car, and there are special policies available for equine and livestock coverage. Make sure your horse stays away from any potential poisons and things that can cause injuries, keep it secure from predators and give it all the exercise and nutrition it needs to be happy and healthy.

The Best Way to Avoid Accidents? Prevention.

Finally, one way to reduce your risk for any pet-related damage or injury claim is to make sure animals are healthy, properly trained and secured to make sure accidents don't happen in the first place. Whatever time and money you put into helping your pets become better citizens will return to you many times over.
If you're ready to learn more about protecting yourself against the tougher aspects of animal liability, ask us about Wespak Estate coverage.