The German Civil Code (BGB) regulates the liability of pet owners in § 833. According to the law, every private pet owner is obliged to pay compensation in the following cases:
The type and amount of damages to be paid depends on the damage in question and, if applicable, the conditions set out in a court ruling. As you can imagine, the compensation for damage caused by your dog will be much lower if only one thing is damaged than if it affects a human life. Due to the age of your dog and his lively nature, the following situations are conceivable, for example:
When people are injured by the behaviour of your dog, the claims for damages can be very high, and in the worst case, you can be in debt for the rest of your life. A dog owner's liability insurance or a pet owner's liability insurance can protect you from this, because the insurer not only covers the claims for the damage caused but also fends off unjustified claims.
Animal owner's liability insurance protects an insured against claims for damages that arise from the private keeping of animals. It is particularly recommended for owners of larger animals, such as dogs and horses, because smaller animals, such as cats or rabbits, are usually included in private liability insurance.
Your personal liability insurance regulates all damages that you yourself as policyholder or the co-insured persons, such as spouse and children, inflict on another person. Most insurance policies also include the settlement of damages caused by small pets, such as
However, insurers usually refuse to pay for damage caused by a dog under personal liability insurance.
The dog owner's liability insurance, in short dog liability insurance, is not a compulsory insurance for every dog and not in every federal state, but it is still advisable to take it out. This applies especially in these cases:
The obligation to take out a dog owner's liability insurance policy is not regulated uniformly throughout Germany but at the level of the federal states. The only federal state where there is currently no compulsory insurance for dogs is Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In all other federal states, liability insurance for dogs is partly compulsory and partly under certain conditions. As a dog owner, you are obliged to inform yourself exactly about your rights and obligations. Otherwise, you risk high fines. Since laws and regulations can change, you should regularly inform yourself in the press or on the internet. As of September 2019, the compulsory insurance for dog owners in the individual federal states is regulated as follows:
Which dog breeds require dog owner's liability insurance is not uniformly regulated within Germany, but it is the responsibility of the individual federal states. If the insurance obligation exists for all dogs, the breed affiliation is irrelevant. However, some federal states clearly define that a dog needs to be insured when it is considered dangerous, and they define which breeds are classified as dangerous in principle. As a rule, a dog is classified as dangerous regardless of its breed if the following criteria apply:
If the insurance obligation only applies to dogs that are considered dangerous, you must observe the breed lists of the individual federal states.
The dog owner's or pet owner's liability insurance provides benefits in the event of claims for damages from a third party:
Own damages, i.e., damages caused by your dog to yourself or your co-insured relatives, are not covered by dog liability insurance.
If you compare different dog liability insurance policies with each other, it is worth taking a closer look at the benefits and additional services, as these can vary greatly from one insurer to another. The standard service provided by the insurers includes the assumption of claims for compensation to settle the damage incurred up to the agreed sum insured. In addition, passive legal protection is usually included, which includes the defence of unfounded claims. Depending on the insurance contract, there are also various additional services, such as:
The term sum insured refers to the agreed sum insured, i.e., the maximum amount of compensation covered by the insurance. If, for example, you have concluded a contract with a sum insured of 5 million euros, the insurer will provide benefits up to this amount in the event of a claim.
Dog owner liability insurance is not expensive, but it pays off. Basically, the insurance premium depends on the following points:
Some insurers also offer discounts depending on the age of the dog owner.
Annual premiums for dog owner's liability insurance for a French bulldog start at around 35 euros with a minimum term of one year, a deductible of 150 euros and a coverage of 5 million euros when paid annually.
There are insurers who charge higher premiums if your dog belongs to a dangerous breed or fighting dogs (list dogs). Some even exclude the insurance cover completely.
If you insure several dogs, many insurance companies reward this with a volume discount. The amount of discount depends on the breed of dog, your age and the amount of coverage. In order to keep the rates as transparent as possible, Coya does not offer quantity discounts.
In some federal states, there is not only the obligation to take out dog owner liability insurance, but minimum insurance sums are also specified. Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, provide for minimum insurance sums of 250,000 euros for property damage and 500,000 euros for personal injury. If you live in Berlin or Hamburg, you must choose an insurance sum of at least one million euros. You should always bear in mind that claims for damages can be very high, especially if it is personal injury. It is therefore advisable to choose a total sum insured of at least five million euros.
Imagine that your dog has caused a traffic accident in which a person has been injured. You are then obliged to pay all compensation claims for measures that are necessary to restore the injured person's health. These may include, for example, special aids, medical treatment and care or nursing. In the worst case, it may even be necessary to cover the costs of a vehicle suitable for the disabled, vocational rehabilitation and home conversion. This can result in costs in the millions, which you can only cushion by taking out dog liability insurance.
There are various ways to save on dog owner's liability insurance without receiving a lower level of benefits. You have to pay less in the following cases:
Note, however, that the rates for this insurance are generally not very high and you will be very limited, for example, by a long minimum contract period or a high deductible. The shorter the contract period, the sooner you can switch to another insurer or tariff if necessary and benefit from lower premiums and better benefits.
If you live in a rented apartment or house, it is definitely worth taking out dog liability insurance. Damage to the so-called rental property by dogs is not uncommon and is usually settled by the insurance company. This can be the case, for example, if the dog has knocked over a bucket while playing, and the rented carpet is ruined by the water that ran out. Many insurers’ grant benefits are from 300,000 euros up to 20 million euros.
In principle, the law stipulates that you must exercise the necessary care when supervising the animal. If your dog is often looked after by other people, such as friends and acquaintances, who do not do this on a commercial basis, you should ensure when taking out insurance that it includes herding by third parties as a benefit component. As a rule, your family members will always be included in the group of people insured.
That depends on your contract. Some insurers will also pay benefits if they are caused by your dog not on a leash.
Dog owner's liability insurance provides cover if another person or animal is bitten by your dog. Depending on the agreed benefits, the insurance then covers, for example, claims for compensation for the doctor or veterinarian, for damaged clothing and for compensation for pain and suffering. Depending on the contract, this may also be the case if the dog has bitten another supervisor, called a guardian bite.
In principle, the dog owner must always be liable for damage caused by his animal to a third party. This also applies if he attends a dog training school with his pet. In this case, some insurers provide for additional benefits that you can contractually agree to. With Coya, participation in dog training is included in the insurance.
The German Civil Code (BGB) exempts the dog owner from his obligation if he places the dog in the care of the dog school as contractually agreed and another person suffers damage during this time. In this case, § 834 BGB, which provides for the liability of the animal supervisor, applies. It must then be checked whether the dog trainer's public liability insurance is responsible.
The dog liability insurance covers all expenses that arise in the event of damage. However, veterinary costs are only covered for another animal, not for your own dog. Here are two examples: