I like to keep life simple, and I would prefer to ignore (or bury my head) about the possibility of getting sued in any situation. (Example: I teach yoga, but I don’t make my students sign waivers, though I do have them fill out a health questionnaire.) I’m a pretty simple person and the less admin I have in my life to worry about, the better. Yet there may come a time when one of my cats inadvertently or unintentionally injures someone. My curious mind wonders: What happens then? Does insurance cover me or an injured person if my cat were to bite or scratch someone, and that someone decided to come after me for damages?
I did a little digging and here’s what I found. It’s important to realize that bites or injuries can occur in different situations, and that certain insurance policies may or may not apply. The insurance industry is complex. Coverage can vary depending on what type of insurance you have, where you live, or even what breed of pet you have. However, I would highly suggest that you also do your own research. It seems that there could be a lot of variance between insurance carriers and coverages. Each situation will be different.
I don’t have any concrete answers here, but I do have some things to consider. Look through this and use it as a springboard for considerations in your particular situation.
If your cat injures someone, you may be covered under the liability section of homeowners insurance, but you should check to be sure. Many insurance companies seem to be following a trend to exclude liability from dog bite injuries, for example. Some insurance carriers exclude certain dog breeds from liability coverage. Also, according to law.com, some liability coverage covers only the first incident of an injury from a pet. If your cat bites or scratches repeatedly (whether the same person, or a different person), you may not be covered that second time.
Coverage may be reduced or nonexistent if the pet injury occurs away from your home. Check your policy carefully, beforehand.
Some auto policies may cover incidences from pet injury that occur in your vehicle. Read your policy and choose carefully.
If you’re concerned about your pet injuring others in your apartment, and you want liability insurance included in your renters insurance, shop carefully. Some policies may include it. But like homeowners insurance, some policies exclude it, or may exclude certain dog breeds.
If you don’t have liability coverage from any of the sources above, and you want coverage should your pet injure someone, you may be able to purchase animal liability insurance. Here’s an example of one carrier of animal liability insurance — not necessarily a recommendation, but an example.
Location matters when it comes to insurance. For example, owners are liable for dog bites in some U.S. states, but not others.
If you’re curious about specific answers to this issue in your particular case, check with your insurance coverage — whether you have homeowners, renters, car insurance, or other insurance.
Perhaps the best approach is common sense! Anticipate scenarios and act accordingly.
I’d like to hope the situation to use the liability insurance never arises. Truthfully, I’ve been bitten or scratched very few times, and it never goes through my head to go after damages. Perhaps the best approach to these possible scenarios is to minimize the odds of injury from a cat in the first place. Enter an unknown cat’s personal space carefully and respectfully and read their body language before you thrust your face or your hand next to their face, for example. If you know you will be dealing with a cat who could injure you (i.e., if you are carrying out TNR, for example, or dealing with a distressed cat or a cat in pain), take precautions to protect yourself. Many accidents don’t have to happen.
Likewise, be proactive and anticipate scenarios if you are the guardian of a cat that might strike out, accidentally or intentionally. If you are having company for example, and you know your cat gets extremely stressed around small children, keep the cats away from the kids during the duration of the visit. You know the drill.
Can you add to the discussion about insurance and injuries from our pets? What’s been your experience? Share your thoughts in comments.
More about pet bites and pet liability:
About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.