Pets (dogs, cats, etc.): what is covered by the civil liability guarantee?


Insure your pets to anticipate possible incidents. Photo: Getty Images.

Pet owners are legally responsible for this. In the event of damage, they may be covered by the civil liability guarantee included in their multi-risk home insurance contract. In what situations? What animals are affected? What happens if you entrust your animal to a third party? It is important to anticipate a possible incident.

Summary:

  • Summary

  • Civil liability and pets

  • What happens if you give custody of your pet?

  • Claim your insurance in case of damage caused by your pet

  • Which animals are covered by the civil liability guarantee?

  • A special case of so-called “dangerous” dogs

Summary

Civil liability and pets

What happens if you give custody of your pet?

Claim your insurance in case of damage caused by your pet

Which animals are covered by the civil liability guarantee?

A special case of so-called “dangerous” dogs

Civil liability and pets

Under the Civil Code, the owner or caretaker of an animal is liable for any damage caused to the animal. This liability is valid even if the animal gets lost or runs away. In other words, you are legally responsible for any damage, whether material (furniture, carpets, clothing, garden) or bodily (bite, scratch).

Damage caused by pets can be covered by the civil liability guarantee included in all multi-risk home insurance contracts. However, this insurance covers only third parties and does not include damage caused to “persons named in the contract” (you, your spouse, your children) or their property.

Specifically, if your dog tears up your new sofa, your insurance company won’t pay you compensation. The same will happen if he bites a family member. In this case, your home insurance will not cover the costs of treatment related to health, and you will not be reimbursed for possible moral or aesthetic damage. To cover family members, you must choose an insurance option or an extension: Accident Guarantee (GAV), Individual Accident Guarantee, Family Protection, etc.

Check with your insurance company, because the concept of “family” differs from one contract to another. Certain contracts are taken, for example, into the care of the insured’s ancestors or relatives who do not live under his roof.

What happens if you give custody of your pet?

If you entrust your animal to a relative, neighbor, or friend for a few days, the law considers it to be “shifting responsibility” to the person who has temporary custody of it. In this case, it is considered that this person is legally liable in the event of an accident or damage. Therefore, it is engaged in its own civil liability insurance. This is all the more true if you entrust your animal to a professional (kennel, personal services company or veterinary clinic), the latter must have the appropriate insurance and be able to provide you with a certificate.

So be careful if you are welcoming a relative’s animal or trusting your own. Some insurance contracts only cover damage caused by animals belonging to the insured person. The concept of transfer of responsibility only applies after a certain period has elapsed. If a neighbor walks your dog or feeds your cat while you are away, you are legally responsible for your pet.

Claim your insurance in case of damage caused by your pet

If your dog bites the neighbors, ruins their garden, or tears their clothes, your insurance will cover the damage. As with any claim, both parties must complete a declaration and send it to their insurance company within 5 days of the incident. Depending on the amount of damage, an expert may be involved. The victim must keep the invoices and all useful items: photos, testimonials… However, some contracts provide for a deductible, even if this type of claim does not entail any penalties for the pet owner.

In case of bodily injury (bite, injury, etc.), it is necessary to make a statement to your insurance company, and in return, the victim receives a questionnaire, where he must describe in detail all bodily, aesthetic, moral and material damage. Your insurer may request a medical advisor to confirm the damage and determine the amount of compensation. If the victim files a complaint, the payment of compensation is suspended until a court decision is issued. You face up to 3 years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros, which of course remains your responsibility.

In the event of any bite, you must report the incident to the mayor’s office and examine your dog three times at the veterinarian within 15 days. The goal is to make sure that he does not carry rabies.

You may be exempt from liability if you provide evidence that the victim threatened or aroused the animal. This is also the case if you manage to prove that a third party caused the accident, for example by opening the gate for your dog.

Which animals are covered by the civil liability guarantee?

In addition to dogs and cats, insurance contracts usually include rodents (hamster, mouse, dwarf rabbit), birds (parrot, canary, pigeon), aquarium fish, or even some turtles. They may also take care of goats, chickens or sheep under certain conditions (limiting the number of animals or maximum grazing area). Each company has its own list, and sometimes mandatory declaration of certain animals is required. So always take care to notify your insurer, he will be able to specify the limits of the guarantee and exclusive coverage.

Your home insurance does not cover damage caused by your pets in the context of a professional or commercial activity (such as sales or exhibitions). Then it is necessary to insure professional civil liability. Likewise, if you are involved in sports with an animal (such as dog sledding or horse racing), any damage caused is covered by insurance issued in accordance with your sports license.

Know

If you are a hunter, you should take out liability insurance related to this practice for your dog.

What is the legislation for NAC (New Pets)?

The conduct of NAC is subject to regulation. The Administration distinguishes between two types of NAC: domestic species (rodents, fish, birds, pets, etc.) and non-domestic species (primates, reptiles, spiders, scorpions, etc.). To conduct one of these, you must, depending on the species, apply to the prefecture or even obtain a performance certificate. It is strictly forbidden to import, buy or own certain species. As far as insurance is concerned, non-local NACs are generally excluded from home insurance liability coverage.

A special case of so-called “dangerous” dogs

Certain types of dogs are usually excluded from the civil liability included in home insurance against several risks:

  • Fighting dogs (category 1, especially pit bulls).

  • Guard or protection dogs (Category 2: American Staffordshire, Rottweiler, Mastiff, Tosa).

Ownership of these dogs is subject to strict rules. Their owner must be of legal age and have a detention permit. It is issued upon presentation of an assessment of the dog’s behavior, a certificate of the owner’s training and various certificates (identification, sterilization, rabies vaccination, etc.). Liability insurance is mandatory for Category 1 or Category 2 dog owners. If this is your case, contact your insurer to arrange for a warranty extension or specific insurance contract. In case of damage to third parties, family members are considered as such here.

Theft of your pet

Except for exceptions, a multi-risk home contract does not provide for any compensation in the event your animal is stolen.

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