If you regularly travel with your pet in the car, you might not think twice about the impact it could have on your car insurance. But not following the rules set out in the Highway Code or in your policy’s terms and conditions could leave you financially worse off if you have an accident. Here, we take a look at whether car insurance covers you while travelling with your pet.
Is driving with a pet in the car illegal?
It’s not illegal to drive with your pet in the car. However, rule 57 of the Highway Code clearly states that you should:
“…make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
Does my car insurance cover driving with pets?
Most insurers have clear rules about driving with pets in the car, which will be set out in your policy’s terms and conditions. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with what these are before you travel with any four-legged friends.
In most cases, your car insurance is unlikely to cover any vet bills if your pet is injured in a car accident. Policies generally only cover vehicle damage and injury to passengers travelling with you, but this probably won’t include your pets.
Nevertheless, personal possessions usually are covered under most policies and your insurer might consider your pet under this definition. If this is the case, you may receive compensation if your pet is injured or dies, but this would be at the discretion of your insurer or your policy wording.
What will happen if I don’t restrain my pets in the car?
If your pet is unrestrained and you have an accident, you could be charged with careless driving which carries up to nine penalty points. You could also be given an unlimited fine or even be disqualified from driving, depending on the severity of the accident.
Leaving your pets unrestrained could also invalidate your car insurance, particularly if your terms and conditions clearly state they should be properly secured. If this happens, it means you won’t receive any compensation at all, even for damage to your car. It’s also likely to lead to increased premiums in the future.
Does pet insurance cover bills if my pet is injured travelling in a car?
Pet insurance may cover vet bills if your pet is injured in a car accident, but this will be stated within your terms and conditions. Don’t forget that if you do have pet cover, it’s also more than likely to include rules about making sure your pet is secured in the car.
Can I keep my pet unrestrained in the boot?
You can keep your pet in the boot of your car, but it’ll still need to be properly secured. This could be using a dog guard, cage or harness. The same applies if your pet prefers to sit or lie on the back seat.
The one place it’s advised not to keep your pet is on the front seat, particularly if you have airbags. This is because when they’re deployed the force has the potential to injure or crush your pet.
How can I drive safely with my pet?
If you’re taking a long journey with your dog, it’s worth planning your route in advance with loo stops for your pet pooch along the way. You should also make sure that your dog doesn’t put its head out of the window as it could be dangerous and lead to an accident. It’s also a good idea to make sure that:
- You leave enough time between your pet’s last meal and starting your journey (around two hours is recommended).
- Your pet has access to water, especially if it’s hot.
- Switch off the passenger airbag if your pet is sitting in the front seat.
For detailed advice about travelling with your pet, take a look at our in-depth guide, How to travel safely with a pet in your car.
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