Dog insurance: How to insure your dog

Imagine the following scenario: You're out for a walk, a cat crosses your path, and your dog tears loose to chase after it. An oncoming cyclist swerves in fright and rams into the parked car at the side of the road. Such dicey situations often arise faster than you think. In such cases, pet insurance policies promise to help. There are many dog insurance policies on the market. However, it is not uncommon for dog owners to be uncertain about which insurance policies apply in which cases and whether they are actually necessary.

We explain how you can protect yourself financially for accidents and their consequences, which insurances really make sense and what you should consider before taking out an insurance policy.

Dog liability insurance

If your dog causes damage to property or even injures people due to carelessness or his hunting instinct, you can have this regulated by a dog liability insurance. In some federal states this insurance is mandatory. But even without a legal requirement, dog liability insurance is advisable.

Where is a general dog liability insurance mandatory?

Currently (as of May 2021), dog owners in these six states are required to insure their dogs against third-party damage, regardless of breed, size, or weight:

  • Berlin
  • Hamburg
  • Lower Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig Holstein
  • Thuringia

In Berlin, for example, you must insure both personal injury and property damage with 1,000,000 euros each, whereas in Schleswig-Holstein only 250,000 euros are allotted to property damage.

In which federal states is there a limited insurance obligation?

In many federal states there is no general obligation to insure your dog against possible damage. Here it depends on the breed and size of your four-legged friend:

  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hesse
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony

However, which dog breeds are subject to compulsory insurance varies from state to state. However, breeds that are classified as category 1 and 2 listed dogs (for example, American Bulldog, Cane Corso, Kangal or crossbreeds of these breeds) must be insured for liability in all of the above-mentioned federal states.

Our tip: In addition to the regulations of the individual federal states, the regulations may also differ at the municipal level. Therefore, it is best to find out before buying a dog whether and to what extent you have to insure it against possible damage and whether you have to present a certificate of competence and prove your reliability in the form of a police clearance certificate.

What benefits does liability insurance cover?

The scope of benefits and the insured amount of damage vary depending on the insurance provider. Most providers cover the following:

  • Rental property damage to buildings and equipment
  • Property damage in dog schools
  • Coverage for dog owners and family members of the same household
  • Herding by third parties (non-commercial)
  • Outdoor activities without a leash
  • Disputes between dogs
  • Damage during stays abroad

Our tip: Is your four-legged friend not castrated? Then inform yourself at the insurance of your choice about a coverage in case of an unwanted breeding act.

Benefits of a dog liability insurance: What does it cover?

A dog liability policy basically covers property damage, personal injury and financial loss in varying amounts:

  • Personal injury: this is damage caused directly to a person, such as when someone is injured or sues for pain and suffering.
  • property damage: This is damage to third-party property that your dog has caused willfully or accidentally. It can be third-party property and also rental property damage, such as furniture provided by the landlord.
  • financial loss: financial loss is financial damage. A distinction is made between genuine and non-genuine financial losses:
  • Genuine pecuniary losses are financial losses that do not arise from property damage or personal injury An example: on a shopping trip, you lean on your dog in front of a boutique. His barking and growling scares off other passersby and prevents them from entering the boutique. The store owner temporarily loses customers and sues for the resulting loss of sales.
  • Non-genuine financial losses arise from property damage or personal injury. Our example: Your four-legged friend has attacked a jogger. Due to the injuries, the jogger is unable to pursue his profession for a longer period of time. The jogger can claim any financial losses from you.

What is not covered by dog liability insurance?

Insurers generally deny coverage for some dogs, housing conditions and claims. These may include the following, for example:

  • Dogs that are kept commercially
  • Dogs kept for agricultural purposes List dogs such as bull terriers, American Staffordshire, pit bull terriers. Here, however, a liability insurance for listed dogs can be taken out as an alternative, whose coverage amounts are set higher and whose premium payments are more expensive.

Our tip: Before taking out dog liability insurance, check exactly which benefits are covered. For example, some insurance policies do not cover damage to electrical appliances or to plastic and glass.

Commercial dog liability insurance

If a dog causes personal injury or property damage while under your commercial care or custody, you are not covered by private dog liability insurance. If you are engaged in a self-employed activity related to the care of dogs, you should purchase business liability insurance. This applies, for example, to:

  • Dog walkers
  • Dog caretakers
  • Dog boarding kennels
  • Dog trainer

Kennel liability insurance

Contrary to what the name suggests, kennel liability is not an insurance policy for dogs kept in a kennel. Rather, the term "kennel" in this case indicates insurance coverage for multiple dog ownership. In addition to the standard benefits of a dog liability insurance, the kennel liability insurance generally also includes mating damage, i.e. consequential costs of an unplanned mating act against the will of the dog owner or injuries caused during mating. It is therefore particularly suitable for breeders.

Our tip: If you have at least one listed dog of category 1 or 2, note that these can be rejected by insurers or they charge a risk surcharge. Therefore, inform yourself in advance about the individual scope of benefits of each provider.

Dental insurance for dogs

As carnivores, dogs depend on a functioning set of teeth throughout their lives: Your four-legged friend needs healthy teeth so that he can chew and grind his food. To ensure this in the long term, a regular check-up at the vet is advisable. Many veterinarians check the teeth of the quadrupeds in the course of the annual vaccination. Necessary treatments, such as teeth cleaning or tartar removal, incur recurring costs on a regular basis. Dental insurance covers such treatments and acute problems in full or proportionally.

Our tip: As the owner of a dog that belongs to a particularly tooth-prone dog breed (such as Pekinese or Yorkshire Terrier), it is best to consider taking out dental insurance early on, as early as the acquisition of the puppy, or to include the dental health of your pelt nose in a dog health insurance policy.

OP insurance for dogs

Accidents happen faster than you think and usually result in high veterinary bills. Some examples:

  • Poisoning: your inexperienced puppy swallows a poison bait at the edge of a field. Fortunately, the veterinary hospital was able to save his life with a medical intervention.

Cost: From 1,000 euros

  • Injury. Your lively and playful Malinois represents himself while romping in the meadow in a hole in the ground. The cruciate ligament rupture was operated on and thanks to the subsequent rehabilitation, your darling will soon be romping around again without any further complaints.

Cost: From 1,500 euros

  • Organ damage: Your dog may also suffer from chronic tonsillitis, which is why your vet advises tonsil surgery. The cost of the operation, including the necessary follow-up treatment, quickly exceeds 1,000 euros.

These are only three possible scenarios that can occur in a dog's life. A surgery insurance for dogs is therefore not only recommended for particularly susceptible dog breeds and very active dogs. Find out about the desired scope of benefits of the various providers and determine exactly which areas you want to cover with a surgery insurance. Possible services and benefits are for example:

  • Tumor treatment
  • consequences of accidents
  • inpatient stays
  • Treatment of gastric torsion
  • anesthesia
  • free choice of veterinarian

Also, consider whether you want to apply for full cost coverage or partial coverage is sufficient for your needs.

Our tip: Not only operations can cause very high costs. If you keep a breed of dog that could possibly become genetically ill in old age, the all-round protection of a comprehensive health insurance would be a sensible alternative.

Dog health insurance

This health insurance for dogs not only combines the benefits of surgery insurance and dental insurance for dogs, but also covers costs for X-rays, ECG, medications, therapies and possibly even fees for alternative practitioners (it is therefore also called dog health insurance). You can also optionally insure outpatient treatments such as vaccinations and worming, e.g. with or without a deductible. This coverage is especially recommended for breeds that are at a higher risk of developing a genetic disease, such as hip dysplasia (HD) or stomach problems.

What should I consider before purchasing dog health insurance?

If you want to buy such a pet insurance, you have to consider a few criteria:

  • General: The tariff is primarily based on the breed, size and weight of your four-legged friend. Some insurers also inquire about your dog's housing conditions.
  • Pre-existing conditions: At best, your dog is healthy, because insurers usually reject animals with pre-existing conditions or charge a risk surcharge.
  • Age: There is a limited acceptance age for the insurance coverage of a comprehensive health insurance. The minimum age is 8 weeks. However, it is best to insure your puppy as early as possible, as premiums increase as your dog ages.

Benefits of dog health insurance and surgery insurance

If you, as a pet owner, care about the health of your furry friend, compare and check potential insurers carefully. You will find particularly large differences, for example, in the waiting periods until the start of insurance coverage or the age of acceptance. You should therefore pay attention to the following points:

  • Waiting periods:

After you have taken out an insurance policy, the protection only takes effect after a certain waiting period. On average, this is 3 months, with the exception of treatment after traffic accidents. For individual medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia, some insurance companies impose separate waiting periods of up to 6 months.

  • Maximum annual limits and reimbursement rates:

Annual maximum limits are the insured amounts. A limit of 1,000 Euros is rarely worth it, as veterinary expenses above this rate are reached faster than you think. Some policies also offer unlimited coverage, but then you may only be reimbursed at 80%. Reimbursement rates refer to the scale of fees for veterinarians (GOT). On weekends, holidays, and at night, veterinarians usually charge 2 or 3 times the rate of this fee schedule. Some pet insurance companies only reimburse the normal rate, others insure up to 3 times the fee.

  • Pre- and post-treatments:

Pre- and post-surgery care (e.g., inpatient stays and rehab) may be covered for an unlimited amount of time. However, insurance companies often offer these benefits limited to a few days or weeks.

  • Minimum and maximum age of acceptance:

The minimum age of acceptance is 8 weeks for almost all insurers. Dogs over seven years of age are rarely accepted by insurers, or they require a veterinary report on the health of your four-legged friend.

Our tip: Insurance companies often offer different packages, such as a basic package, comfort package and premium package. Waiting times may vary within the packages or may not apply at all. Insurers also vary the benefits of pre- or post-treatment and the maximum annual limits with their reimbursement rates. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the individual packages.

Travel insurance for animals

If you want to travel abroad with your four-legged friend, dog liability, surgery and dog health insurance will usually cover you in the event of damage or accidents. However, before you start your vacation, check exactly which benefits are covered for your destination country and for how long the insurance coverage is valid.

Our tip: Find out in advance how you should keep your dog in the country you are traveling to. Especially important are the leash or muzzle regulations: If a claim occurs because you have demonstrably acted negligently and disregarded the applicable regulations in the country, your insurer will probably refuse to cover the costs.

Travel cancellation insurance

Generally, this pet insurance refers to traveling individuals or families. If you travel with your four-legged friend and have to cancel your vacation due to an illness of your pelt-nose, the travel cancellation insurance only applies if you have already listed your dog in the booking documents. Many insurers also request confirmation, such as a report or certificate from the vet treating the dog. These possible reasons for cancellation are usually insured:

  • a new and acute illness of the dog
  • an accident of the dog
  • an urgent operation of the dog
  • occurring vaccination incompatibilities (for example, if a certain vaccination of the dog is required for entry)

Our tip: Inform yourself in detail about all benefits before taking out travel cancellation insurance. This way, you can avoid unforeseen costs for cases that are not covered by the insurance.

Which dog insurance is the right one?

There are countless insurance providers with different service offerings. Which one best suits your needs is therefore very individual; unfortunately, we can't give you a blanket recommendation. But we have 5 tips for you to find the right insurance:

  1. Insurance needs: Before taking out an insurance policy for your furry friend, think about what you want to insure. Also consider what seems appropriate for your four-legged friend's size, breed and weight.
  2. Contributions: Also, consider what you are willing to pay for it.
  3. Benefits: Be well informed about the benefits and rates covered. You may get "more" for your money with some insurance plans.
  4. Compare: It is best to compare at least four insurances, because the benefits can differ significantly.
  5. Contact person and availability: If a local contact person is important to you and you are prepared to accept slightly higher premiums for this, find out about the branches of various insurers in your area and, if possible, get personal advice.

Damage: How to act correctly

Accidents happen! Fortunately, you have taken out insurance for your dog. To ensure that the protection is guaranteed and the insurance company pays for the damage incurred, there are 8 important tips on how to proceed in the event of a claim, from which you best not deviate:

  1. Direct contact: At best, report the damage directly by phone or online, and in this move also announce a written statement and logging.
  2. Submit notification: Submit the written claim to your insurance company no more than one week after the accident.
  3. Confidentiality: Do not acknowledge a possible claim for damages in front of the injured person, as your insurance company will first thoroughly investigate the claim.
  4. Honesty: Always give truthful information without embellishing the facts.
  5. Sketch: Especially in traffic accidents, it's best to draw a sketch that reflects how the accident happened.
  6. Take photos: If possible, take photos of the entire accident scene and the damage in detail.
  7. Alteration: Be careful not to move or otherwise alter damaged areas and objects, as your insurance company may want to consult an expert.
  8. Safekeeping: File any bills and receipts that have already been paid in an organized manner to ensure that your expenses can be reimbursed in full.
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