From the January 23-30, 2012 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

Man’s Best Friend—or Missile?

It has long been said that “dog is man’s best friend,” and many people feel that way about their family pets. They are so attached to their pets, in fact, that they frequently take them along with them in the car—and it’s not just a ride to the vet. They’re taking dogs to dog parks, day care and even play dates with other dogs.

This is all well and good, until one thinks about the distraction that having a dog in the car brings.

A survey of drivers who travel with their dogs showed that drivers admit to petting their dogs; using hands or arms to hold dogs in place while braking; using hands to keep dogs from climbing into the front seat; allowing dogs to sit on their lap; and feeding dogs treats while driving.

In addition to the driving distraction that Fido presents when he is a passenger in the car, there is also another safety hazard. In an accident, Fido becomes a flying missile, injuring himself and others as he bounces around the car. In an abrupt stop, Fido will keep moving at the speed the car was traveling. Take a 40-pound dog moving at 60 miles an hour, and the physics of the situation get ugly. The driver, passengers and dog may all be injured.

Remember that as far as insurance is concerned, a dog is personal property, so the Auto policy med pay doesn’t cover injuries to Fido, and the Homeowners policy doesn’t cover animals.

Some carriers are now offering coverage for animals traveling in cars. One carrier’s limit is $2,000; however, if you’ve ever taken an animal to an emergency vet, you know that $2,000 may not be enough to treat all of Fido’s injuries.

But all is not lost. A visit to most pet stores will provide you with a safety harness for your furry friend. While there aren’t any laws that Fido must be buckled up, if you buckle up yourself and your family, you may as well buckle up your best friend.

 

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