Will auto insurance cover pet passengers?

Only 2 percent of cats, dogs and other pets travel while safely restrained, according Bark Buckle UP, an advocacy program that promotes safe pet travel. The remaining 98 percent of pets are either improperly restrained in vehicles or not restrained at all.
If your cat, dog or other pet gets hurt in a car incident, the vet bills can reach astronomical proportions, especially if your pet suffers a chronic injury that requires long-term treatment, medication and therapies.

Will your auto insurance cover the vet bills? If it won't, can you get pet health insurance to protect your pocketbook and ensure your pet's well-being?
Progressive Insurance offers a unique pet auto insurance policy that covers dogs and cats up to $1,000. According to the company’s website, "Progressive's Pet Injury coverage protects your dog or cat from injuries that result from accidents when they're inside your vehicle. Pet Injury coverage is not pet insurance, which covers your pet in the event of illness or injury."
The restrictions on Progressive’s policy can be confusing at first. If your dog or cat gets hurt in a collision, the damage will be covered. But if a car hits your pet, or if the animal sustains an injury by, for instance, sticking its head out a window, the injury would not be covered.
According to Bark Buckle UP, unrestrained animals can be dangerous not only to themselves but o human drivers and passengers. For instance, a 15-pound dog decelerating from 30 to zero mph can exert a force of 675 pounds.
To protect animals in your vehicle, follow these pet travel tips from Edmunds.com:
  • Use approved safety devices to restrain pets, even on short trips.
  • For longer trips, consider sedating your animal if car travel makes it particularly nervous.
  • Secure the pet in a carrier, whether the pet is small or big.
  • Do not allow a pet to stick its head out a window or to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck.
Pet health insurance
Because your auto insurance most likely will not cover a pet's injuries after an accident, consider getting pet health insurance. The Insurance Information Institute reports that Americans spend upwards of $40 billion on their pets -- half of which goes to veterinary care.
Traditional pet health insurers offer policies that are similar to human health insurance. Carriers must be licensed and must abide by state rules and regulations. Basic coverage, which provides some reimbursement for things like illnesses, poisoning and accidents, likely would cover your pet's injuries after an auto accident.
Among other options for traditional pet health insurance coverage are comprehensive coverage (which includes more generous reimbursements and also pays for things like vet visits, lab work and diagnostics) and pet well care (which provides reimbursements for preventative work, such as vaccinations, flea prevention and annual physical exams).

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