We all love our pets, who make up important and legitimate members of our families. Whether they are cats, dogs, parrots, hamsters, ferrets, pigs, lizards, fish, or any other member of the animal kingdom, the companionship provided by our pets is priceless.
We take care of our animals, and they take care of us. But how your home insurance views your pet is quite different than how we do. When it comes to your pets and insurance, they are considered “property” or “possessions” according to your insurance provider and the law.
How Your Insurance Views Your Pet
Pets are covered under your home insurance policy, and it is very important that you be upfront with your provider about your ownership status. Insurance companies view pets as potential risks. This is because if your pet harms another animal or a human (such as if your dog gets in a fight at the dog park or bites someone in your home), you are liable for the damages. Since vet bills can be astronomical, this can be ruinous for many. In addition, the other dog owner or bite victim could sue you for not having your pet under proper control.
Speaking specifically of dogs, Alberta does not have any specified “dangerous breeds,” but insurance companies do have some discretion when it comes to excluding certain types. If you own a pit bull, Rottweiler, or German shepherd, you may need to shop a bit more to find the right policy. Given the fact that we are able to access numerous polices from several of Alberta’s best providers, insurance brokers are your best bet for finding the right coverage should you own a restricted breed. Some questions providers may have about your pets and insurance include asking for information about your pet’s history, where the animal is kept, and if there is a yard and a fence on your property.
Home insurance generally provides adequate protection for dog bites in Alberta. For situations where home insurance won’t suffice, there are pet owner liability policies available.
Many people inquire about a separate exotic pet insurance policy for “high value” animals, however no such policies are available in Canada.
Who is the “Owner” of my Animal?
Unfortunately, there are situations when it has to be decided who “owns” a pet and should be considered their primary caretaker. This is most often due to the breakdown of a marriage.
Should the unfortunate circumstance occur where the ownership of a pet must be determined for their possession, a few general guidelines exist in Canada. It’s important to keep remembering that according to pets and insurance (and the law), pets are property. This may seem heartless, but it does provide for a foundation from which ownership can be (somewhat) fairly decided upon.
- The person who bought the pet is often decided upon as the owner of the pet. If you can provide a receipt for purchase, this could be helpful for your case.
- If the pet was purchased jointly, as a second option the name listed as the owner on the city’s license, or at the vet’s office, or on the breeder’s certificate, is often thought of as the owner.
- If you have been given the pet as a gift, you are thought of as the owner, not the purchaser.
- If you can’t claim ownership but have been the main caretaker of the pet, you may be able to seek compensation for your time and monetary investment.
- Pets can be thought of as “jointly owned,” which means their care can be split between parties.
You can’t ask for “custody” of a pet, as that term only applies to human children. You can only ask to be determined as the owner, just as you would for a vehicle or piece of art. Also, sadly, if you have not been determined as the owner of the animal you will not be able to request access to it for visitation.
Pets and Insurance Are Also Companions
Suffice it to say, pets are a huge responsibility. If you are considering adding an animal to your home, for insurance purposes, carefully consider what kind poses the least amount of risk to your family. When it comes to pets and insurance, you do have a fair amount of protection, but because there is always the chance of an incident, proper training and care should be a high priority.
The experienced and knowledgeable insurance brokers of Lane’s work for you – not the insurance companies. Just a sampling of the products we provide includes home insurance, car insurance, travel insurance, commercial auto insurance, commercial property insurance, commercial surety bonds, contract surety bonds, and contractors insurance. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, and Alberta offices today.