Liability Insurance for Cats: Essential or Useless?

Do you have liability insurance? If not, think about it: how quickly can it happen that a mishap or adverse event can result in a costly claim against you. Insurance is generally a sensible thing. But what about liability if the pet is the culprit? Special liability insurance cover has proven itself for animals such as dogs or horses. Find out in this article whether liability insurance also makes sense for cats.

Why am I liable for my cat?

The term “liability” means that someone is liable for damage caused to another person. If there is damage, loss of earnings, or consequential costs, for example for medical treatment after an accident, the person who caused the damage must pay for it. You are also considered to be the “causer” if the damage is not caused directly by your actions, but indirectly. As the owner, you have to pay for your pet’s actions. This is stipulated in Paragraph 833 of the German Civil Code (BGB).

There is an interesting differentiation in the law: Pets kept privately are considered a luxury. Liability insurance coverage takes effect if the animal causes damage for which the owner is not directly responsible. On the other hand, owners of livestock or commercial animal husbandry would only be liable for damage if they had demonstrably breached their duty of care.

So if the pet causes an accident or causes material damage, this is an indirect effect of your animal husbandry, for which you as a private individual are responsible. After all, according to the interpretation of the law, the animal is a “thing” in your possession. Ultimately, liability rests with you, and depending on what happened, the amount of damage could be substantial.

Is private liability insurance sufficient?

Now the question arises whether the damage caused by the cat is not covered by the already existing private liability insurance. After all, keeping pets is interpreted under the law as an “extension” of your own person. The answer is: usually yes. Because there is currently no explicit pet owner liability for cats. Many private liability insurance policies for cats include coverage for damage that is subject to so-called “strict liability”. This means that even with the best education, animal behavior cannot always be predicted. However, since cats are much less likely to be involved in claims and, in case of doubt, cause lower costs than horses or dogs, for example, they are often included in strict liability.

Mind you: Such “cat-inclusive contracts” assume less property damage, for example, if the cat scratches a visitor’s designer handbag or snatches a guinea pig from the neighbor’s outdoor enclosure. But what if, through the cat’s fault, an incident occurs that is significantly more expensive?

What sum insured should be covered?

When it comes to the question of the sum insured, it naturally plays a role in how likely an extreme case of damage is: If your cat is an indoor tiger, there is a much lower risk than with an adventurous outdoor cat. However, liability insurance should cover a sum of at least five million euros, according to insurance experts.

Of course, this enormous sum leaves you speechless at first, but it can be explained by the worst possible scenario: Imagine the cat running across the street, causing an accident with a truck. It then crashes into a building, several people are injured, and The house is now in danger of collapsing. Property damage, recourse claims from health insurance companies for treatment costs, court costs, claims for pain and suffering, disability pensions and the like easily add up to an enormous amount for which you would be liable with your current and future assets.

As improbable as the occurrence of such a damage event is – liability insurance would step in here. The most important point: the cat must be included in the insurance contract as a potential trigger for liability cases; Pay attention to the corresponding agreements in your personal liability contract.

Also, take a careful look at liability limits and exclusion clauses, for example in the case of negligence. For example, an insurance company can set limits for the damage to rented property mentioned above, for example, if the cat is not denied access to endangered areas or if it was not prevented from damaging it.

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