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Which insurance policy pays if you hit a dog in your own driveway?

Question:  My wife backed over our tenant's golden retriever on our property and displaced its hip. What insurance should cover the vet bill: their renter's insurance, my auto insurance or my homeowner’s insurance?

Answer:  What insurance policy will cover this incident really depends upon the terms of the policies, state laws and who was at fault in the accident that resulted in the golden retriever being injured.

If your wife were at fault in this incident, then the property damage liability portion of your car insurance policy should cover the veterinarian bills for the dog. Your wife could be found at fault if the dog were there with your consent (for example, if the homeowner were renting out your property) and allowed to roam the property without a leash.

It may be found by your car insurer that your wife didn't take due care when backing up if she knew there was a possibility the dog could be out on the property.

If instead the dog owners are at fault, due to having the dog without your consent, leash laws broken, etc., then your car insurance policy wouldn't normally pay for the dog's medical bills because your insurer would find your wife not liable for the accident.

The renter's insurance of the tenants likely wouldn't pay for the dog’s displaced hip since this type of insurance policy only usually pays for injuries to people and the policyholder's personal property, if it's damaged within the dwelling place.

Your homeowner's insurance may cover the dog's injuries; it really depends upon the terms of your specific policy.

Some homeowner's property policy only covers personal injury to people and damage to the property covered, not to property belonging to tenants. If your homeowner's policy lists coverage for damage done to tenant's property due to negligence, then there is a possibility it would pay.

If you and your wife feel responsible for the injuries to the dog and want to pay for the medical bills (under insurance instead of personally), then we'd recommend that you first go to your car insurance company.

The tenant can make a claim under your auto insurance's property damage liability and see if it will be accepted based on how the incident occurred.

If your auto insurance doesn't accept the claim, then you can contact your homeowner's insurance provider and find out if your policy would cover this event that happened on your property.

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