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Pets Cars and Windows

Even people who don't own pets are familiar with the classic image of the family car zipping down the road, with a happy dog-face poking out from the passenger seat window. Pet owners, on the other hand, know that while Fido may enjoy the breeze in his face, he or his feline friend FiFi are likely to be in cars for many reasons other than family trips. Sometimes the ride may be to the dreaded vet, while other trips might wind up at a local park or animals-welcome pet store. What no one really thinks about is what happens if your dog or cat is injured because they were in the car during a traffic accident. While one insurance company made a big splash last year with their offer of a $500 insurance policy just for pets in cars, the reality is that if you were not at fault during an accident, the other driver's insurance coverage will usually cover your injured pet under their property damage coverage. If it seems a bit cold-hearted to think of the furrier members of your family as property, remember that just because they think they're people doesn't mean the insurance industry agrees.

Bodily injury coverage in insurance policies is designated for human beings only, and any other damage - even if it's an injury to your pet - is considered property damage. Having to think of a pet as property is far better than not having them covered at all. The catch, of course, is the part about the at-fault driver being liable for property damages. As well, if an accident is your fault - say you rear-end another driver - and your pet is injured in the process, your own property damage insurance will be of no help. One thing you can do to minimize the likelihood of your dog or cat being injured in a car accident is to make sure they are restrained within the car.

You wouldn't let your child ride without a seatbelt, after all, and neither should you allow your pet to be unsecured. Methods of securing animals in cars vary from crates and portable kennels, to harnesses that connect to seat belts (some even come with booster seats so smaller dogs can see out of the window), or simple cargo mesh dividers that keep your animal in the way-back of your SUV. Lisa Peterson, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club stresses, "The No.

1 thing that you have to do when you transport your pet is have them restrained." Kelly Connolly, an issues specialist with The Humane Society seconds that, saying, "You don't want to let an animal roam loose in the car." Connolly adds that you should also make sure that dogs keep their heads inside the vehicle, to reduce the possibility of eye injuries from flying debris.

Also, never leave a dog loose in the bed of a pickup truck, as this can be dangerous for both the dog and any pedestrians who may be nearby. Riding in the car can be a great treat for dogs and cats, but keeping them restrained will keep you from being distracted while you drive, and it will also help protect them in the event of an accident. If they're not injured in the first place, the question of whether or not they're insured will not be an issue.

Do you have the required amount of auto insurance for your state?

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