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Published: February 2, 2022Last updated: July 29, 2022

Pet Coverage: Does Car Insurance Cover Pets?

Car insurance could cover you whether you hit a pet or get into an accident with a pet in the car.

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When it comes to car insurance, pets aren’t usually something that comes up unless you’re a pet owner. However, all drivers need to be concerned about hitting pets, whether they’re running on the loose or tucked away in the back seat. In this article, we’ll explore the intersection between pets and car insurance, and whether your pets are covered.

Does Car Insurance Cover Pets?

Car insurance can cover pets in some cases, whether you’ve hit a dog or cat or you’ve gotten into an accident with a pet in the car. The term “pet coverage” also applies to wild animals, so the same rules apply if you hit a wild deer as if you hit someone’s pet.

What’s Covered: Collision and Liability

  • Unintentional collisions: As long as you hit a pet unintentionally, collision coverage would cover any damage to your car. But note that no state requires collision insurance, so it’s something you’d have to add to your policy optionally.
  • Pets’ veterinarian bills and other expenses: Pets may feel like members of the family, but in the eyes of the law, they’re your property. If you hit someone else’s pet with your car, liability coverage will cover the pet’s veterinary bills and any other expenses under property damage coverage. Unlike collision coverage, property damage coverage is required in every state except New Hampshire and Virginia, so if you have car insurance, you’ll have this minimum coverage.

CheckNOTE

While collision coverage isn’t a legal requirement, it’s part of full coverage. Learn more about full coverage vs. liability.

What’s Not Covered: Restrictions and Exceptions

  • Reckless driving: If you hit a pet while driving recklessly and the pet is injured or killed, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to the pet’s owner for its medical bills, burial costs, or end-of-life care.
  • Negligence: If the pet was running loose, that’s negligence on the part of the pet owner, so you wouldn’t have to pay any of the pet’s bills.
  • Intentional damage: If you hit an animal intentionally, car insurance would not cover its medical costs or your property damage.

Car Insurance Pet Coverage

Let’s dive into the ins and outs of liability and collision coverage, which together make up pet coverage in car insurance.

Costs

Collision and liability coverage costs $947.64 a year on average, although the price depends on many factors, including which state you live in. Find your state’s average liability and collision coverage costs below.

State Average cost of collision and liability insurance in 2019 Average cost of collision insurance in 2019 Average cost of liability insurance in 2019
South Dakota $585.20 $248.09 $337.11
North Dakota $596.39 $284.09 $312.30
Iowa $601.27 $250.96 $350.31
Wyoming $648.45 $292.37 $356.08
Maine $673.00 $297.60 $375.40
Wisconsin $671.94 $250.73 $421.21
Idaho $704.02 $270.36 $433.66
Nebraska $704.68 $272.97 $431.71
Vermont $707.44 $333.38 $374.06
Kansas $712.06 $285.92 $426.14
Montana $723.71 $286.02 $437.69
Indiana $733.95 $288.97 $444.98
North Carolina $736.13 $344.07 $392.06
Ohio $751.41 $303.55 $447.86
New Hampshire $776.67 $334.15 $442.52
Minnesota $776.52 $274.20 $502.32
Virginia $815.27 $323.76 $491.51
Tennessee $832.86 $353.43 $479.43
Missouri $846.03 $318.44 $527.59
Hawaii $849.36 $370.53 $478.83
Illinois $872.38 $351.27 $521.11
Oklahoma $843.66 $338.87 $504.79
Arkansas $857.02 $372.65 $484.37
West Virginia $868.17 $352.97 $515.20
New Mexico $900.13 $315.88 $584.25
Alabama $917.39 $390.19 $527.20
Mississippi $909.06 $364.63 $544.43
Utah $923.55 $308.40 $615.15
Kentucky $917.89 $307.91 $609.98
Pennsylvania $931.59 $383.01 $548.58
Alaska $986.77 $401.87 $584.90
Oregon $966.50 $281.69 $684.81
Arizona $990.41 $327.86 $662.55
Washington $1,030.49 $325.38 $705.11
Colorado $1,037.08 $332.26 $704.82
South Carolina $1,033.21 $317.95 $715.26
Massachusetts $1,111.97 $447.05 $664.92
California $1,122.95 $495.18 $627.77
Texas $1,084.63 $434.46 $650.17
Maryland $1,179.39 $430.21 $749.18
Connecticut $1,212.23 $412.78 $799.45
Georgia $1,250.46 $420.60 $829.86
Delaware $1,358.84 $539.48 $819.36
Nevada $1,300.30 $374.59 $925.71
Washington, D.C. $1,252.63 $354.76 $897.87
Rhode Island $1,409.49 $491.19 $918.30
New Jersey $1,380.60 $422.29 $958.31
Florida $1,352.89 $355.69 $997.20
New York $1,402.28 $469.82 $932.46
Michigan $1,458.01 $478.54 $979.47
Louisiana $1,508.92 $485.01 $1,023.911

Light BulbDID YOU KNOW?

The cheapest state for car insurance pet coverage is South Dakota, which had an average cost of $577.91 a year for collision and liability coverage in 2018.2

Read more about the cost of car insurance.

Limits

A limit is the maximum amount your insurance provider will pay in a covered claim.

  • Liability coverage: You can choose your liability coverage limit. For property damage, we recommend getting twice your state’s minimum. For example, the minimum coverage in California for property damage is $5,000, so we’d recommend a $10,000 limit. Learn about your state’s requirements in our auto insurance guide.
  • Collision coverage: You won’t have to choose your collision coverage limit; it’ll be your car’s actual market value (AMV). We also recommend getting gap insurance to pay for the gap between what you paid for the car and its AMV, which has undoubtedly depreciated (even if you bought your car yesterday).

Deductibles

  • Liability coverage: Liability coverage doesn’t come with a deductible, meaning that if you have a covered claim, you don’t have to pay any money upfront. Your insurance provider will compensate you for any covered costs up to your liability limit.
  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage does require a deductible. The way deductibles work is that you’ll have to pay your deductible before your insurance provider will contribute to covered claims. Collision deductibles are $500 on average.

Is It Worth It?

  • Liability coverage: Liability coverage is not only worth it, it’s a requirement in every state that requires auto insurance. It covers bodily injuries as well as property damage. If you unintentionally hit a pet and it’s your fault, property damage coverage means you wouldn’t have to pay for the pet’s medical care out of pocket. Considering that a broken bone can cost an average of $2,371 for a dog or $2,257 for a cat,3 paying an average of $596.96 annually for liability coverage is worth it.
  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage is worth it for any new car that you drive on roads, because property damage coverage only covers damages to the other party’s property in at-fault accidents. If you get into a collision with a pet (or any other property) that’s your fault, collision coverage would also cover the damage to your car.

What Happens if an Accident Occurs With a Pet in the Car?

If you’re in an accident with a pet in the car, your property damage to either your vehicle or your pet may or may not be covered.

At-Fault Accidents

In an at-fault accident, collision coverage would still cover your property damage to both your car and your pet (if it had any injuries).

Not-at-Fault Accidents

If you weren’t at fault in an accident with your pet in the car, the at-fault party would pay your property damage costs. If the other party lacks insurance or has inadequate insurance, you could get covered under uninsured motorist coverage if you have it. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you may have to either pay out of pocket for your damages or file a subrogation claim, meaning your insurance carrier would sue the other party to receive damages.

Car Insurance Companies With Pet Coverage

Any car insurance company can provide pet coverage under liability and collision coverage. To find the right one for you, check out our list of car insurance companies.

Other Options for Pet Injury Coverage

Car insurance isn’t the only type of insurance that covers pets.

Pet Health Insurance

If you are a pet parent, we recommend getting pet insurance, which can cover your pet’s vet bills if they are injured in an accident or otherwise ill.4 Pet insurance is, in a nutshell, health insurance for pets, with coverage for the following:

  • Hospitalization
  • Lab tests
  • Prescriptions
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays4

Whether or not an accident is your fault, pet insurance can cover your pet’s veterinary bills.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pets?

Homeowners insurance only covers damage that your pet does to someone else’s property, like if they chew on your neighbor’s curtains. It doesn’t apply to car accidents.

Pet Travel Tips: How to Drive Safely With a Pet in the Car

While it’s always a good time to cruise with your beloved best friend, you should take certain precautions to make sure your pet is safe and sound.

  1. Don’t let them hang out of the window. Once you start driving, close the window so your pet can’t hang their head out.
  2. Roll down the windows. If you have to leave your pet in the car, make sure you crack a window so they don’t get too hot.5
  3. Take breaks. Just as you need rest stops during a long car ride, make sure your dog is also getting enough snacks, water, and bathroom time.
  4. Use a belt or harness. We recommend securing your pet with either a seat belt or a pet harness. In Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, you’re legally required to harness your dog while driving.6
  5. Keep them in a crate. You could also use a travel crate to house your pet. Put a blanket over it to prevent your dog from barking at other dogs.
  6. Use a fence. If you don’t want to put your pet in a crate, install a fence in your car that separates the front seats from the back seats. Make sure you get a fence that fits your type of car, as they’re not one-size-fits-all.

Recap

That’s everything you need to know about car insurance and pet coverage, but keep reading for even more answers to the questions we’ve come across the most.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about how car insurance can cover pets.

Will car insurance cover me if I hit a dog with my car?

If the accident was not your fault, car insurance will cover your property damage and medical payments under the other party’s liability coverage. However, if you were being reckless or hit the dog on purpose, car insurance wouldn’t cover you, and you’d be forced to pay for all of the property damage and injuries out of pocket.

Does car insurance cover hitting a cat?

Yes, car insurance covers unintentionally hitting a cat under liability and collision coverage.

Does insurance cover dog damage?

Yes, insurance covers dog damage. If you hit a dog and it damaged your car, you’d be covered under collision insurance. If someone else’s dog damaged your car in another way, like by chewing up your seats, homeowners insurance could pay for the damages.

Which insurance company has launched insurance coverage for pet dogs?

These are some pet insurance companies with coverage for pet dogs:

  • ASPCA
  • Embrace
  • Figo
  • Lemonade
  • ManyPets
  • Nationwide
  • Pets Best
  • Prudent Pet
  • Spot
  • TrustedPals

Get quotes for each pet insurance plan and review the terms and conditions before settling on a provider.

Citations

  1. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  2. Average Costs: Veterinary Care. CareCredit. (2022).
    https://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/costs/

  3. Does car insurance cover hitting a dog? Progressive. (2022).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/does-car-insurance-cover-hitting-a-dog/

  4. Pet Insurance Buyers Guide: 5 foolproof steps for finding the right plan. Nationwide. (2022).
    https://www.petinsurance.com/pet-insurance/

  5. 5 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car. Rover.com. (2019, Dec 11).
    https://www.rover.com/blog/how-to-keep-dog-safe-in-car/

  6. Does Your State Require Dogs Be Harnessed in the Car? Orvis. (2021, Jul 30).
    https://news.orvis.com/dogs/does-your-state-require-dogs-be-harnessed-in-the-car