Pets, Parties and Insurance Coverage

Pets, Parties and Insurance Coverage

November is here and the winter holiday season is fast approaching. Before we can blink, it will be time to plan festive dinners and parties with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Many of us enjoy hosting get-togethers this time of year. Something we may not always consider, though, is how an increase in visitors to our property can correlate with a higher risk of insurance-related liability concerns.

While we may recognize factors commonly associated with holiday gatherings, like the presence of alcohol and the potential for inclement weather, can make injuries and accidents more likely, there’s another risk factor that we might overlook: those furry, scaly, or feathered residents of our homes, our beloved pets.

Maybe you told your nephew not to pull the cat’s tail fifty times before the poor kitty finally took a swipe at him. Maybe your sister never knew she was allergic to birds until an ugly rash broke out on her arm where your kids’ Parakeet was perched. Or, maybe you had put your new puppy in his crate and your mother-in-law couldn’t understand why you’d want to keep such an adorable creature in a cage – until your great-aunt trips over Fido on her way to the dinner table and your Thanksgiving is spent at the ER.

Crowded, noisy holiday parties can create an environment where even the most even-tempered, well-socialized, people-loving pets can be the cause of an unanticipated insurance claim. If someone is seriously injured in your home by your pet, an already unfortunate situation can quickly be compounded by the reality of learning your existing homeowners or renters insurance isn’t sufficient to cover the costly medical expenses or lawsuits that might result.

Here’s what you need to know in order to make sure your guests, pets, and your bottom line can all stay safe and healthy through holiday party season:

Make Sure Your Pets Are Covered

It’s important to know what your homeowners or renters insurance coverage includes in regards to pets. The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies cover dog bites and liability for other common domestic pet-related injuries, and most renters insurance policies offer some level of pet liability coverage.

But, there are often limitations related to breed, species (whether a type of animal is considered domesticated or exotic), and the kinds of injuries or other damages caused. Don’t assume that all possible costs resulting from an injury, accident, or property damage caused by a pet are covered under your current policy. Insurance agents, like those at the O’Brien Insurance Agency, can review your policy and help you secure coverage that meets your and your pets’ needs.

While it may seem tempting to not disclose pet ownership details when acquiring insurance for your living space to avoid a higher premium, you could be setting yourself up for a much more significant financial hit in the event your pet harms someone and you don’t have appropriate coverage in place. Talk to your insurance agent about any pets living in your home or on your property, and make sure you clearly understand what’s covered and what isn’t in the event of a pet injury or damage claim.

Tips to Keep Pets and Guests Safe During Holiday Parties

Along with being certain you have the right insurance coverage in place just in case there’s a pet-related incident in your home, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce the chances of issues occuring:

  1. Let visitors to your home know about your pets beforehand, if possible. Otherwise, inform guests upon their arrival about animals in your residence, and share any guidelines that will help promote the best experience for people and pets alike. For example, let guests know if your dog is particularly wary of small children or prefers to be approached slowly, or if your cat is staying in the basement because too much noise makes her nervous, so it’s best to make sure the basement door stays closed.
  2. Keep pets up-to-date with recommended shots, particularly rabies vaccinations.
  3. Keep animals that aren’t yet socialized, are known to become nervous or fearful around strangers or large groups of people, or that tend to be underfoot, in a separate area of your home during your get-together.
  4. Be aware of your pets’ whereabouts while visitors are present. Be prepared to intervene/remove your pet from the situation if it appears they are becoming overwhelmed or over excited.
  5. Don’t leave children unattended with pets, and encourage all guests to be respectful of your pets’ space when they are eating, sleeping, or drinking.
  6. Ask guests to refrain from feeding your pets unless they check with you first. This helps avoid instances where guests are putting their hands near your pets’ mouths, plus it can prevent your pets from ingesting something that may cause an adverse reaction.

Ask the Experts

The experienced agents at O’Brien Insurance are prepared to answer any questions you may have about your existing insurance policies and the liability coverage they offer regarding your pets. They can help you choose new policies or add coverage if needed, and, in the event that you do have to file a claim because of a pet-related injury, they’ll walk you through the claims process step-by-step. Contact them today!