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Following the recent approval of the Act 7/2023 of 28th of March, on the protection of animal rights and welfare which entered into force on 29th of September 2023, the legislator has established a legal framework which aims to guarantee the protection and welfare of animals in Spain.
Within the set of rights recognised for animals, a relatively unknown precept has been introduced, which will undoubtedly have a major impact at the social level, especially in a society like Spain where 1 in 3 families have a dog in their homes.
We specifically discuss the inclusion of article 30.3 of the regulatory text; this specific article stipulates: “In the case of dog ownership and throughout the animal’s entire life, the owner must contract and maintain in force civil liability insurance for damages to third parties, whose coverage includes the persons responsible for the animal, for an amount sufficient to defray any possible derived expenses.”
What repercussion shall the entry into force of article 30.3 of Act 7/2023 of 28th of March have?
First of all, it entails the requirement to contract mandatory civil liability insurance that covers damages and injuries that dogs may cause to third parties starting from 29th of September 2023. At this point, the legislator did not want to include the damages that could be caused by other pets, for example, cats, in the mandatory insurance.
Secondly, the civil liability policy must be specific for the dog, namely, the policy terms and conditions must specify the dog to be insured.
Regarding the individuals who own more than one dog, in principle, nothing prevents them from taking out a single policy for more than one dog, as long as each of the animals is included separately and differentiated within the object of insurance.
Third, the policy coverage must have a sufficient amount in order to defray any damages that the animal may cause. Regarding this point, the legislation does not clearly stipulate what should be understood as sufficient, where the usual practice in these insurance policies is a civil liability coverage that ranges between €120,000 and €150,000.
In any case, it should be noted that numerous municipalities in our country have ordinances that include the minimum amounts that civil liability policies must cover, especially in the category of potentially dangerous dogs.
Who must contract the civil liability insurance policy?
The law is very clear about this point and it stipulates that the person who holds the registry ownership of the dog must be the same person who is the policyholder, namely, the individual who owns the dog and the subscriber of the insurance policy must be concentrated in the same person.
Does my home insurance policy cover the damages that may be caused by my dog?
No, the home insurance policy does not cover the civil liability caused by dogs; it is necessary to contract a specific insurance policy which identifies the dog and its owner.
Consequently, starting from 29th of September, the coverage of home insurance policy for the damages caused by dogs to third parties shall cease to be valid, necessarily requiring the contracting of a specific civil liability insurance policy which complies with the requirements stipulated by law.
It should be noted that as long as the home insurance policy complies with the requirements stipulated by the new law, it shall be fully valid; however today, the majority of insurance policies do not comply with the legal requirements in relation to the insurance for dogs. which requires, as we have mentioned, a specific policy.
What happens if I have a dog administratively classified as potentially dangerous?
The specific article of the new law does not differentiate between categories of dogs; the legislator clearly has the intention to insure the civil liability that can be caused by any type of dog, without differentiating between dangerous and non-dangerous dogs.
The exclusions that undermine the possible application of the insurance policy in cases of damage caused by dangerous breeds shall not be admitted. It is expected that insurance companies shall increase the premiums in the cases where they intend to insure this category of dogs, where they may not exclude their coverage in any case.
- Starting from 29th of September, there is a stipulated obligation to contract mandatory insurance which covers the civil liability for damages that dogs may cause to third parties.
- The home insurance policy does not cover the civil liability of dogs; whereby it is necessary to contract a specific insurance policy.
- The civil liability insurance policy must identify the dog and its owner, where said owner is obliged to subscribe the policy.
- The policy must have sufficient coverage to defray the damages caused to third parties.
- The insurance policy coverage must cover dogs administratively classified as dangerous and non-dangerous, where limiting clauses cannot be included that exclude coverage due to the dog’s category.