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Third party dog insurance

Donna McConnell
Written by  Donna McConnell
5 min read
Updated: 12 Apr 2024

Pet insurance doesn’t just protect your dog with health issues but it can also cover legal expenses and damages if they’re involved in an accident and you’re found liable. Find out how third party dog insurance can save you money

What is third party dog insurance?

Third party liability insurance is a part of your pet insurance that covers you against any costs resulting from damage or injury that’s caused by your canine companion.

Third party dog insurance can also help to cover the cost of:

  • Legal expenses

  • Vet bills

  • Medical costs

  • Damages

Other compensation claimed: Such as loss of earnings due to injury or emotional distress

dog insurance

Do I need third party liability insurance for my dog?

If you’re a dog owner, third party dog insurance is recommended for protection if your dog is involved in an incident that causes injury to another person, a dog, or damage to someone else’s belongings or property, such as;

  • Your dog runs loose and causes someone to fall and hurt themself

  • They knock something over resulting in breakage

  • A third party takes civil action against you and the court decides you must pay compensation or cover medical or legal costs

If you’re found liable for prosecution, it will help to cover the legal costs which can run into thousands of pounds. However, third party dog insurance doesn’t apply to dogs who have a history of aggression.

Is third party protection standard in all pet insurance policies?

Third party protection isn’t standard in all pet policies but it’s typically included in Lifetime or Maximum Benefit pet insurance policies which tend to be more expensive.

Policies will vary between insurers and if you’re unsure whether you have this cover you should check your documentation or contact your provider for confirmation.

How much does third party pet insurance cost?

Insurance costs can vary widely depending on the type of pet you have: You can expect to pay on average £9.741 a month, though this will vary based on:

  • The breeds of your dog

  • Age

  • The type of cover

  • Individual health needs

  • Past claims.

Different breeds will have higher costs due to known health issues.

Breed

Average Monthly Premium

Labrador retriever

£12.92

Cocker spaniel 

£12.18

Cockerpoo

£9.73

French bulldog  

£24.19

Staffordshire bull terrier 

£14.07

Average monthly premiums by dog breed according to MoneySuperMarket data from April 2024.

1MoneySuperMarket data from April 2024. 51% of our customers were quoted £9.74 per month for dog insurance based on the monthly cost when paying for the policy in one annual payment.

How can you get cheaper third party dog insurance insurance?

There are some things you can do to help lower your premiums like adding a higher excess, or buying insurance for your pet when they're young and in good health. Other things you can do include:

  • Regularly vaccinating your pet and considering preventive measures like neutering can lower the chances of health issues arising

  • Paying your insurance premiums annually instead of monthly can often lead to savings in the long run

  • Shop around using comparison tools to find the most competitive rates for pet insurance

Choose the right insurance excess

Excess is an amount that you agree to pay to cover the cost of a claim before your insurer pays out. When you take out pet insurance, there are different types of excess that are applied to you policy.

  • Compulsory excess is a sum that is predetermined by your insurer.

  • Voluntary excess is a sum that you volunteer to pay in addition to your compulsory excess. Increasing your voluntary excess is one way to keep the cost of your policy down.

Adjusting your voluntary excess is a simple way of reducing your premiums, but it means that you will have to cover more of the expenses when you make a claim on your pet insurance.

Another way to keep costs down is to opt for pet insurance with a co-payment excess. This type of excess is sometimes added to your pet insurance automatically when your dog reaches a certain age, but policies will include this type of excess from the start.

A co-payment for pet insurance refers to a percentage of covered expenses that the pet owner is responsible for paying. For example, if a pet insurance policy has a co-payment requirement of 20%, and the total covered expenses for a vet’s bill amount to £1,000, the pet owner would be responsible for paying £200 (20% of £1,000) out of pocket.

It’s an affordable way to get your older pet insured as premiums generally increase the older your pet gets. But with co-payments you’ll also still be required to cover your policy's compulsory and voluntary excess, so you will need to consider if you can afford an additional sum in the event of a claim.

How to choose the right third party dog insurance policy

The right pet insurance policy is one that strikes a balance between cost, coverage, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet is protected. The most common types of pet insurance are:

Lifetime

Lifetime pet insurance offers the most extensive coverage and will protect your pet for its whole life. It’s the priciest option but your pet will be covered for vet bills, treatments and legal costs relating to any injuries or illnesses up to an annual limit which resets each year upon renewal. This does mean your premium is likely to increase.

Max benefit

Maximum benefit pet insurance, also referred to as 'condition capped' or 'money limited', offers coverage for your pet's injuries or illnesses up to a specific limit, typically between £2,000-£5,000, depending on your chosen coverage level. The level of cover varies between providers but on average ranges between £1 million and £3 million.

Time-limited

Time-limited pet insurance, provides cover for a set period of time (usually 12 months). during which time, you can make claims for veterinary fees, medication, and other expenses related to the treatment of your pet's illness or injury, up to a predetermined limit.

This cover type can be an affordable option if you want a level of cover in place for your pet but are willing to pay for further issues after the policy has ended. This type of pet insurance policy, however, may not include third party liability cover, so read the terms of your cover carefully if this is the policy type you're interested in.

Accident only

Accident-only pet insurance provides limited coverage, focusing solely on accidents and their related complications. This means your pet is protected only if it's injured due to an accident, excluding coverage for illnesses, pre-existing conditions, routine care such as vaccinations, and policy excess.

While this option may come with lower premiums, its scope is restricted, leaving you financially vulnerable if your pet faces illnesses or develops long-term conditions. This policy type also may not cover third party liability depending on your chosen provider and policy.

What exclusions should I be aware of with third party dog insurance?

As with most insurance policies there are some common exclusions you need to be aware of when it comes to third party dog insurance. You will need to be transparent about your dog’s history otherwise it will make your policy void and if you own a banned breed third party liability insurance is a requirement if you want to register your dog on the IED.

Common exclusions include:

  • Pregnancy and birth: These are generally not covered. If you get your pets neutered or spayed, you may be entitled to cheaper premiums.

  • Preventative treatments: Getting preventative treatments like worming or flea treatments done may lead to cheaper premiums.

  • Vaccinations: Necessary for pet health but not covered. Keeping your pet's vaccinations up to date can result in lower insurance premiums.

  • Excess: The amount you pay towards a claim can vary. Choosing a higher excess can bring down the cost of your policy, but you will have to pay that amount in the event of a claim.

  • Banned breeds: Dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act are difficult to insure, and even more so for banned breeds or pets used for security or guarding

  • Pre-existing conditions: Pets with existing health conditions may need specialist insurance.

Does third party dog insurance cover dangerous dogs and working dogs?

Most policies do not cover working dogs and that it can be harder to get third party cover for dogs categorised as 'dangerous' breeds due to their reputation. In the UK the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act make it unlawful to own these five dog breeds:

Pit Bull Terrier

  • Japanese Tosa

  • Dogo Argentino

  • Fila Brasileiro

  • American XL Bully (from 1st Feb 2024)

There are exemptions for these breeds if you can show proof your dog doesn’t have a history of aggression. If you can demonstrate this, you can have your dog added to the Index of Exempted Dogs (IED). If you do get one of these breeds on the IED, you’ll need to have third party liability insurance. Some specialist third party liability insurers will insure your dog if it has a good track record but these providers typically won't be found through comparison websites such as MoneySuperMarket.

Rebecca Goodman
Rebecca Goodman
Financial journalist

Our expert says

The most important thing to realise, before you become a pet owner, is the responsibility involved with having a dog. You'll need to thoroughly research what will be required of you when you take on a dog - not just things like it daily needs and exercise routine, but also the liability if it injures someone else and what is covered (and not covered) if you take out pet insurance.

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