Does Car Insurance Cover Pets?

Quick Answer

Car insurance may cover your pet if it is injured in a car accident as specified in your policy. If it isn’t included in your standard car insurance, adding collision or pet injury coverage can help protect you from costly vet bills.

St. Bernard dog laying in the back of yellow car

If your pet is hurt in a crash, the vet bills that result can be financially destabilizing. Thankfully, your standard auto insurance may offer some coverage that will help if your pet is hurt in a car accident. Here's what you should know about pet injury coverage and how you can keep your pets safe with smart financial choices.

What Is Pet Injury Coverage?

Pet injury coverage is a type of coverage offered under some auto insurance policies. You may have to pay for additional coverage to protect your pet in case of a car accident, but your existing standard car insurance may already include pet injury coverage under your collision coverage.

As far as your insurance coverage is concerned, pets are considered property. Therefore, you are eligible for compensation if they are harmed. Coverage amounts may have a set limit, such as $1,000.

You may also be able to get coverage for the costs associated with a pet's death in an accident. Similarly, insurance may provide you funds to purchase a new pet, as its goal is to restore your property. While pet owners know that no best furry friend is replaceable, these funds can help protect your financial interest in your pet, and potentially soften the emotional blow.

How Can I File a Claim to Cover Vet Bills From a Car Accident?

If you need to file a claim under pet injury coverage that's included as part of your existing collision policy, you can do so as you would file any other claim, online or over the phone.

Be prepared to pay your regular deductible for the collision incident. There may not be an extra deductible for the pet injury coverage.

Keep track of all the vet bills associated with the accident. You will need to submit a copy of them all as part of your claim to be reimbursed for your pet's care. Make sure you satisfy all the requirements of your policy. These could include having a pet of the correct species and owning the pet injured in the accident.

If another driver is at fault for your accident, you can expect their insurer to pay for vet bills and related expenses up to their property damage policy limit for pets. You'll want to work with your insurer to make sure you file this claim with the party's insurer.

What Are Other Ways to Save on Vet Bills?

Even if you don't have pet injury coverage available right now, there are other ways to save on vet bills. Think about:

  • Getting pet insurance: You can purchase pet insurance to help cover vet bills. You pay a premium and your policy dictates how much coverage you have for routine care or emergencies. Pet insurance is especially important if you don't have cash on hand or the ability to borrow at good rates in case of emergency.
  • Starting a pet emergency fund: Just like you need an emergency fund that could cover unexpected medical bills, so does your pet. If you stash some money in a high-yield savings account set aside just for your pet, you may be prepared to pay the vet in cash if your pet is injured.
  • Using a 0% APR credit card: When you have a large vet bill, a 0% introductory APR credit card can help you break down the costs. If you can apply for a credit card with a promotional 0% APR, you'll pay no interest on your vet bill as long as you pay it off during the introductory period. Certain credit cards are even earmarked for medical and veterinary expenses. Cards with intro 0% interest often have stricter requirements for approval. Make sure your credit score is good as it can help you qualify for this interest-free financing in an emergency.

When it comes to pets and car accident safety, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. When you're figuring out your budget for a new pet, make sure to factor in the cost of vehicle safety items. These could include:

  • Body harnesses that clip into seatbelts or attach to seats
  • Raised pet seats for small pets
  • Carrying crates
  • Barriers between seats
  • Installed crates for large pets

Spending on these safety items upfront could help protect your pet—and yourself—from serious injury in a car accident. This could reduce vet bills in the event of an accident.

Add Pet Injury Coverage to Your Car Insurance

If you travel with your pets, check your car insurance policy to see if they would be covered in the event of an accident. Without coverage, you could face high, unexpected vet bills.

Besides purchasing pet insurance or saving for an emergency, getting a car insurance policy with pet injury coverage could help you save after an accident. Find the best car insurance for your needs and budget when you use Experian's auto insurance comparison tool to compare policies and find the best price. You can get quotes from over 40 of the top providers in minutes.