What is Third Party Pet Insurance? And Do You Need It?

Third party pet insurance can be a confusing term. Is it pet insurance you buy through a third party? Third party pet insurance is actually a type of liability insurance that protects you in case your dog injures someone or damages property. Below we’ll look more in-depth at third party pet insurance, covering what it is, how much it costs and where you can find it.

What is Third Party Pet Insurance?  

As mentioned above, it is a type of liability insurance. It protects you when your dog attacks a third party, hence the name of the plan.  

It covers you when your dog:

  • Injures a person
  • Injures another dog
  • Causes damage to someone else’s property

Even if we do our best to keep our pets under control, they could suddenly bite another pet while out on a walk. They could escape from the backyard and dig up someone’s whole yard. Or they could attack a child that had wandered into their yard.  

When these issues happen, some serious vet bills, legal fees or damage costs can occur, so you might want to consider a third party pet insurance plan that could cover all those expenses.  

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Third party pet insurance usually comes in two types:

  • Lifetime: These have a maximum limit that resets after the renewal period 
  • Maximum benefit: These have coverage limits up to a certain amount over the whole policy length, like around a couple of million dollars

>>MORE: The Best Pet Insurance that Covers Pre-Existing Conditions

How Much Does Third Party Pet Insurance Cost and Where to Find It?

Costs can vary based on the breed, health and age of the dog. It can come as an added benefit with dog insurance policies, but the premium may be higher due to this benefit. You can also buy animal liability insurance separately through companies like Prime Insurance Company or XInsurance.  

Third party pet insurance is much more common in the U.K. than the U.S. For instance, PetPlan U.K. has a whole page detailing that third party dog insurance is covered right in the dog plans. The major price comparison sites for this type of insurance, like GoCompare, are based out of England and Wales. Another U.K site, Comparethemarket, lists maximum benefit insurance around £184 per year and lifetime coverage at around £185 per year.     

In the U.S., Trupanion does offer an add-on pet owner assistance package, which covers liability coverage for third-party property damage. When we went into the quote system and entered a 1-year-old Labrador Retriever in North Carolina, the quote listed the pet owner assistance package at $4.95 per month on top of the base plan. The main plan ran from $47.57 per month to $140.64 per month, depending on deductible amounts.     

Sometimes homeowners insurance will cover dog bite liability legal expenses, according to the Insurance Information Institute. However, sometimes homeowners policies won’t cover aggressive breeds or dogs with a history of aggression. Or they may cover the aggressive dog but do so with a higher premium.  

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Who Should Get Third Party Pet Insurance?

It can be hard to know if this type of insurance is even worth the cost. A large problem with third party pet insurance is that it’s hard to find coverage, or affordable coverage, if your pet has had aggression issues in the past or is a breed that’s known for being aggressive. And if you feel your pet wouldn’t hurt a fly, it can be hard to justify the added cost.

However, what makes pet liability issues so hard to predict is that even dogs without a history of aggression could cause trouble. Sometimes a dog can cause harm just by being playful. They could simply hurt someone or damage something by jumping up. Then a person or object is on the ground injured or damaged. Or a dog that has never been aggressive could get into a situation where they feel their turf or food source is threatened and attack.  

You may especially want to consider this type of insurance if you live in an area that is heavily populated and/or you take your dog out often. You never know what your pet might encounter and how they could react.  

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