Can your dog invalidate your car insurance?

dog carAs a nation of animal lovers we are potty about our pets and are often guilty of over-indulgence. Take driving as an example where the majority of dog owners give their pooch the run of the car. Surely there’s nothing wrong with Rover riding shotgun or Fido curled-up on the back seat? The law sees things very differently and if you are involved in an accident your pet could become a very expensive passenger.

Careless driving is an offence under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act which states that “If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence”.

It’s a fairly woolly piece of legislation that’s wide open to interpretation, but it’s designed to cover a host of minor traffic offences from using your mobile while driving to eating when behind the wheel. It also covers driver distraction caused by unrestrained pets.

If you are involved in an accident and found in breach of the law, you’ll be issued a minimum of three points (which will in-turn bump-up your insurance premiums), a fine of up to £2,500 and discretionary disqualification. But that could just be the start of your troubles.

While driving standards are objective and left up to the authorities to judge; there’s a clause in The Highway Code which can be cited in order to reject insurance claims. Rule 57 reads “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving”. The advice is clear and can be used by your insurer to invalidate your claim or by a third party making a claim against you. Either way you could be left seriously out of pocket.

It’s also worth considering potential harm caused to you or your pet if you are involved in an accident. Studies have shown that an unrestrained dog weighing 25kg in a collision at 35mph will have an impact of 1225kg with devastating consequences.

The answer is to invest in a restraining system and there are plenty of affordable options to choose from including: seatbelt harnesses, cages, crates and guards. While it’s going to take time to convince every motorist of the benefits of pet restraints; we hope you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay.

If you have any questions about car insurance or pet insurance please comment below or call a member of our team on Tel: 0800 9700330.

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