Compulsory insurance for dogs: what does it include?

Everything you need to know about dog insurance.
When you purchase a dog, you know that your quality of life can improve considerably. However, many of the joys and good moments that come along with the arrival of your new companion can be marred by unexpected situations involving your pet, especially if it belongs to a dangerous breed. In this sense, some animals must have compulsory dog insurance that covers the liabilities assumed by the owner due to possible unforeseen events linked to the animal's actions. In this article you'll find information on all the obligations associated with these regulations and how to comply with them.
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What is public liability and what does it mean for pet owners?

Public liability can be defined in general terms as the obligation to cover damages caused to another person by one's own action or by the action of something for which he or she is liable.

Article 1905 of the Civil Code notes the following: “The holder of an animal, or the one who uses it, is responsible for any damage that it causes, even if it escapes or gets lost. This liability will only lose effect if the damage or injury is due to force majeure or is the fault of the person who suffered it.”

Under a public liability policy and within the limits established by law and by the contract itself, the insurer is obliged to cover, on behalf of the insured party, the risk of compensating third parties for damages caused by an unforeseen event for which the insured party is legally responsible.

Forcing dog owners to take out pet insurance ensures that, in accordance with the terms of the contract, any compensation that may arise from this public liability is covered. This way, anyone harmed by the animal's actions can receive financial compensation to cover medical or personal expenses arising from bodily injury, as well as possible material damage caused by the pet. In addition, this type of insurance also covers expenses related to legal assistance and counsel for legal proceedings in which the animal's owner may be involved due to the animal's conduct.

Remember that in order for the insurance to cover the expenses derived from public liability, the owner of the animal must also comply with the rest of the obligations described in the regulations. These obligations include, among others, registering the pet in the Registry of potentially dangerous animals, notifying of its loss, or using certified straps and muzzles when the dog is in a public space.

Who is required to take out dog insurance?

In the communities of Madrid and the Basque Country it is compulsory to take out dog insurance, regardless of the breed. In the rest of Spain, it is only compulsory to take out a public liability insurance policy for dogs if the dog is classified as “potentially dangerous.” This category has different definitions according to each Autonomous Community. Nevertheless, it always includes, at minimum, the eight breeds provided for in Royal Decree 287/2002, implementing Law 50/1999 on the legal framework for keeping potentially dangerous animals. The dogs included in this category are the Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Rottweiler, the Dogo Argentino, the Brazilian Mastiff, the Tosa and the Akita.

In addition to these breeds, other types of canines, whose characteristics correspond to those determined in the Royal Decree mentioned above, can also be considered potentially dangerous and therefore subject to compulsory insurance. In turn, for animals with aggressive behavior or animals that have already had violent episodes in the past, the potential danger must be assessed by the competent authority, and, where applicable, their owners have the obligation to take out public liability insurance.

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Other coverages offered by dog insurance

In addition to public liability insurance, many insurance companies offer pet insurance policies that cover not only third-party damage, but also another series of expenses related to animal care. Depending on the insurance policy taken out, this coverage may include compensation in the event of loss or theft, veterinary costs of the animal (including sacrifice), or the cost of a dog kennel in the event that the owner must be hospitalized and cannot take care of his or her pet. Some insurance policies also include customer service helplines where the dog's owner can receive advice from a veterinarian as part of the veterinary coverage.

To take out this type of insurance with extended coverage, the animal must meet a series of conditions: be under nine years old and in perfect health, in addition to having all the relevant documentation required by law (census, microchip, updated vaccinations, breed registry for purebreds, etc.).

If your dog falls under the category of potentially dangerous animals, or if you are interested simply in taking out pet insurance, we recommend that you take a look at the different pet insurance policies that we offer. Choose the coverage that best suits your needs and the characteristics of your pet.

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