Dog liability: Safe on the road with your best friend

Dog liability: Safe on the road with your best friend
Patrick Ott
Martina Martinez
Expert for insurance and finance
29. August 2023

as a dog owner, you can rely on your furry companion: He is faithful at your side and goes with you through thick and thin. But don't forget: no matter how well-behaved and friendly your dog is, it can always get frightened and run away, causing a traffic accident or injuring a fellow dog while playing.

For you as a dog owner, this can be expensive. Opt for dog liability insurance to be protected from high costs. Find out now what dog liability insurance is, when it covers you and in which federal states it is mandatory.

What is dog liability insurance?

Section 833 of the German Civil Code stipulates that pet owners must pay for all damage caused by their pet. For you, this means: If your dog gets loose and causes a traffic accident or injures a person while playing in a storm, you have to pay for all damages. If, for example, several cars are damaged in an accident or a person is injured, you may be faced with high claims for damages.

Your dog owner liability insurance protects you from such claims for damages by third parties and compensates them for you. It also fends off unjustified claims that third parties make against you.

Taking out dog owner liability insurance primarily protects your assets. In addition, it guarantees that third parties who suffer damage from your pet will be compensated for it. For the latter reason in particular, dog liability insurance is a legal requirement in many German states.

Who needs liability insurance for the dog and where is it mandatory?

Damage caused by dogs can be expensive for the owner. Accordingly, liability insurance for dogs makes sense for anyone who keeps a dog as a pet. In addition, insurance for dog owners is even required by law in the following federal states:

  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Lower Saxony
  • Hamburg
  • Thuringia
  • In the following federal states a liability insurance obligation for dog owners is only provided under certain conditions:
  • In Schleswig-Holstein and Saxony-Anhalt, compulsory insurance depends on the breed of dog.
  • In North Rhine-Westphalia, insurance is compulsory for owners of dogs with a shoulder height of 40 centimeters or more and a weight of 20 kilograms or more.
  • In Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate there is compulsory insurance for dogs that have attracted attention.
  • In Saarland there is an insurance obligation for the owners of dog breeds that have been classified as dangerous.

There is no compulsory insurance at all in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

What damages does dog liability insurance cover?

Injuries to animals and people and minor personal injuries account for over 65 percent of all damages.

Liability insurance for your dog covers these damages. Most insurers provide the following benefits:

  • Coverage for property damage caused by your dog. This includes damage to a rented apartment
  • Coverage for bodily injury caused by your dog biting, scratching or otherwise injuring a person.
  • Compensation for property damage caused by your dog
  • Compensation for damages incurred while attending dog shows or tournaments
  • Compensation for damages caused by unwanted mating acts
  • Injuries to other animals caused by your dog before, during or after attending dog school
  • Coinsurance of puppies of the insured dog for up to one year from birth
  • Assumption of damages that occur while a third party is guarding your dog

If the claims of third parties against you as the dog owner are unjustified, the insurer will defend you against them. In case of emergency, the dog liability insurance even covers court and lawyer fees.

What does dog liability insurance cost?

You can take out liability insurance for your dog with many insurers for as little as 2.50 euros per month. However, it is not possible to say in general what the insurance will cost you in a specific case. After all, the exact costs depend on:

  • the breed of your dog
  • the amount of the desired sum insured
  • the desired scope of benefits
  • the amount of a possible deductible in the event of a claim

Which dogs can be insured?

With many insurers, you have the option of taking out dog liability insurance for all breeds of dog. However, there are insurers that do not offer coverage for dogs that are considered dangerous. These can be the following breeds, for example:

  • American Bulldog
  • Alano
  • Pitbull
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Terrier and
  • other dogs, which are so-called list dogs in Germany

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