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has anyone had a legal claim made against their dog?

(39 Posts)
whysnicknameinvalid Sat 08-Nov-14 14:55:59

Am really worried and wondered if anyone has been in a similar position?
My dog ran into someone and knocked them over, it wasn't an attack ,just an unfortunate accident ,but the person fractured their foot and had some bruising and is pursuing a claim. Our pet insurance say they won't cover . I have contacted household but don't know if they'll cover us.
Has anyone had anything similar happen?

VivaLeBeaver Sat 08-Nov-14 14:58:25

No but I know someone who sued someone for the same. Her leg was badly broken and needed operations and she ended up losing her job. The owners dog insurance covered it and did pay out.

Most household insurance covers public liability stuff so hopefully they'll pay out if needed.

moosemama Sat 08-Nov-14 15:48:31

No experience, but I would have thought your insurance company has to cover you if your policy includes third party liability - which most do.

Booboostoo Sat 08-Nov-14 16:16:26

Your pet insurance is probably for vet fees which is why they won't cover you. Try your household insurance for third party liability.

moosemama Sat 08-Nov-14 16:21:46

Double check your policy. If you have Third Party Liability the insurance company would be liable in this situation.

This is PetPlan's explanation of what would be covered under their third party liability cover, which comes automatically with all of their policies.

As Booboostoo said though, if your policy is for vet fees only then you won't be covered.

SpicyBear Sat 08-Nov-14 17:42:57

Does your insurance include third party cover?

SpicyBear Sat 08-Nov-14 17:43:51

If not, are you by any chance members of the Dog's Trust?

whysnicknameinvalid Sat 08-Nov-14 20:14:29

Thanks everyone - I do have third party liability on my pet insurance but as she ran out of my gatewhen I opened it , it is not valid as I was not restraining her. Have now contacted household but am worried will be same reason for them to reject the claim.

SpicyBear Sat 08-Nov-14 20:21:05

Have you double checked the terms and conditions to make sure that you absolutely can't push for them to accept the claim? If there is any room for argument I would follow that up aggressively!

WeAllHaveWings Sat 08-Nov-14 20:25:15

That's very poor insurance cover (name and shame so others can check their policies). Have you read the policy documents and do they say this?

Thought the whole point of third party was injury/damage which is most likely to happen when your dog isn't restrained (running onto road and causing accident for example).

whysnicknameinvalid Sat 08-Nov-14 20:32:46

The insurance is animal friends. They've written to me saying that as she was off my property( pavement just outside) and I didnt take care to restrain her( was getting bin in!) Its invalid. They also go on to say that it would be the same if I was opening the car and she jumped out while unrestrained.

This makes me think when the hell would they pay under third party liability?? What if I was at park with dog off lead and she ran into someone? Or ran across the road?

whysnicknameinvalid Sat 08-Nov-14 20:34:51

I sponsor a dog with dogs trust Spicybear - don't know if that makes me a member ?

VivaLeBeaver Sat 08-Nov-14 20:42:06

I've heard bad things about Animal Friends before....that they'll do all they can to wriggle out of paying.

If you've got third party liability they really should pay.....unless it says in the paperwork about not covering off the property, etc.

I'd certainly never take insurance out with them after reading this.

yesbutnobut Sat 08-Nov-14 22:15:26

OP I'd take a look at some of the cases which have been taken to the Financial Ombudsman Service. It's not as if you deliberately let your dog go after this person. In the meantime don't make any admissions to your insurer (don't agree with their interpretation).

SpicyBear Sat 08-Nov-14 23:07:13

It's different to sponsorship - you pay £20 per year and it has third party cover. I would agree that you should investogate further trying to get them to accept your claim. You could call Trevor Cooper's advice line for some initial legal advice as well.

moosemama Sun 09-Nov-14 10:33:24

Ah, Animal Friends - yep they have form.

I have however just located their Policy Benefits and Exclusions and this is what they say:

Public Liability

Your legal liability to a third party, for the damages and costs arising from your ownership of the insured pet; your costs and expenses of defending civil proceedings incurred with our written consent.

Exclusions to these benefits include:

Death, bodily injury, loss or damage to you or any property owned, held in trust, the charge of or under the control of you, any person handling the insured pet with your permission and consent, any person that lives with you, any member of your immediate family, your agent or licensee, any person in the course of their employment or under a contract of service or apprenticeship with you, guest, employer or any person with whom you have a contractual or business relationship.

Death or bodily injury, loss or damage to property as a result of the insured pet’s interaction with other animals or worrying sheep.

Fines, compensation and prosecution costs following your prosecution under the provisions of the Dogs Act 1871, Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 or Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.

Here's the link.

... and here's the link to the policy wording for their basic_prime insurance, so their lowest cost policy to include Third Party Liability

As you can see, nothing about not having the dog restrained in the Benefits and Exclusions and based on the first link and above wording, I would have said they don't have a leg to stand on and you should either contact the ombudsman straight away or contact AF again stating that you will do so if they don't agree to claim.

However, what I think they're trying to do is get you under pint 5.3.2.2 of their policy wording, which explains the exclusions of certain claims, as follows:

This policy shall not apply to liability in respect of:

any claims:-

5.3.2.2 arising as a result of any deliberate act on your part or for any other act or omission which could reasonably have been foreseen as causing the loss, damage or injury complained of;

In which case, you have two choices - Trevor Cooper or the ombudsman, because that clause is plainly ridiculous, as it will exempt just about any accidental circumstance you can think of.

So sorry they are messing you around like this. Unfortunately pet insurance is an absolute minefield and many insurers will do everything in their power to wriggle out of their responsibilities.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 09-Nov-14 10:45:04

I think you could really argue this. There's no point offering third party insurance and then saying your dog wasnt restrained so you're not covered. You're argument is especially strong as it doesn't say the dog must be restrained at all times.

You could argue that you couldn't reasonably be expected to for see that your dog would break someone's foot. Its not as if you were standing on a motorway playing fetch - I could understand them not covering you for an accident in such a scenario.

I think you should contact the insurance ombudsman.

moosemama Sun 09-Nov-14 10:51:46

Lots and lots of negative stuff online about AF if you Google their name plus refusing or refusal to pay. This guy finally got them to work with him after posting details of their refusal to pay out on their FB page. Twitter may be your friend too.

moosemama Sun 09-Nov-14 11:01:04

The Financial Ombudsman has an example of a case they overturned where the insurers said the owner had failed to take due care here. The ombudsman said the owners could not reasonably have predicted what was going to happen and upheld their claim.

I'd give them a call and ask for their help if I were you. Details of how to contact them here.

yesbutnobut Sun 09-Nov-14 14:14:58

www.ombudsman-decisions.org.uk/viewPDF.aspx?FileID=46397

A FOS case upheld against insurers who argued owners should have prevented their dog jumping out of the car even though it was unexpected behaviour and hadn't happened before. Some very relevant statements in this finding I would have thought (steps owners should have to take to prevent their dog escaping).

moosemama Sun 09-Nov-14 14:33:55

That's a really interesting case, especially as they upheld the customer's complaint, despite much more stringent and specific clauses in the policy regarding steps they felt the owner should have taken.

yesbutnobut Sun 09-Nov-14 17:31:29

I thought so too moosemama. I came across it when I was researching whether or not to take a claim against my own insurers on a different matter. There may be others and the FOS are very helpful.

When you think about it, this is exactly the kind of unforeseen event that you need third party cover for and it gets my goat that insurers do anything to avoid paying. When people talk about making sure you have insurance I feel like saying don't forget insurers are experts in turning down claims! Often the insured lacks the confidence or knowledge to challenge them.

whysnicknameinvalid Sun 09-Nov-14 17:50:38

Thanks so much for everyone's input!! I will be arguing it with them. I have looked closely and unfortunately there is a ' general conditions" page at the end of all the policy bumpf and point 10 basically seems to say all bets are off if you don't adequately secure your garden and the dog is not on your property due to not securing it. Our garden IS usually v secure - 6ft fencing and sturdy tall gates to drive way,but I had of course opened the gate and was on pavement getting bin in ,so according to their wording I had not stopped thedog leaving the property.aaagh!

VivaLeBeaver Sun 09-Nov-14 18:25:08

I think there's a world of difference between a normally secure garden which a dog has accidently slipped out of and a garden which isn't normally secure, has had no effort to be fenced.

yesbutnobut Sun 09-Nov-14 19:13:55

I agree Viva and believe you can argue you didn't act in an unreasonable way. I think that's the message from the case I linked to - that insurers can't expect you to go to unreasonable lengths to prevent your dog escaping.

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