Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The situation can require different types of coverage depending on the context, be it comprehensive car insurance, liability, or collision
  • If you hit a dog, you need to have the right level of insurance to file a claim for your vehicle repairs
  • If the animal was lying lifeless in the middle of the road, it’s considered an object. When you hit an object that’s standing still, you must file a collision claim
  • If you hit a dog that’s running across the street, it’s classified as a comprehensive loss

Accidents happen, but they can become even more emotional when you hit an animal. It is even worse when you hit a dog because of the species’ reputation for being man’s best friend.

You feel guilty about not being able to react quickly enough, but in reality, no reasonable person would have been able to avoid hitting the dog without putting other lives at risk.

It’s your duty to take all of the appropriate steps after you hit a dog while you’re driving.

Not only do you have to worry about dealing with the dog at the scene of the accident and who is responsible for paying the vet bills, but you also have to worry about who’s going to pay for your repairs after the incident.

Start comparison shopping today to make sure you have the right coverage at competitive rates! Enter your ZIP code above to get started for FREE!

Table of Contents

What should you do if you hit a dog?

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It’s easy for a dog to suffer some serious injuries, even if you’re driving at very low speeds at the time of the accident. Your first concern should be caring for the dog if they are still alive.

Since dogs who are in life-threatening situations may become aggressive, it’s important that you take precautions before you try to move it.

If you can’t move the dog out of the road and you don’t recognize the pooch, your best option is to restrain the pet as best as possible and contact animal protective services or 911 depending on your area.

If you see the owner’s phone number on the dog’s tag, give a courtesy call while help is on the way.

Animal services will take the dog and administer care if the animal can survive the injuries.

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Are you responsible for paying for care?

If you hit a pedestrian who’s running in the street, you’re at fault for failing to yield.

Since you’re at fault in an injury loss, your Bodily Injury Liability coverage will pay up to your per person and per accident limit for the victim’s medical treatment.

 It doesn’t quite work like this when you hit an animal.

No matter how much you love your pet, they are still considered property for insurance purposes.

If a dog gets out and is running down the road without a leash, it’s considered negligence on the owner’s part and not yours.

While you can offer to help pay for the veterinary bills if you want, your insurance will not pay for medical bills because you’re technically not at fault.

Who pays to repair your vehicle?

Your car insurance protects you when you’re in an accident. Accidents with dogs become a bit confusing. If you want your insurer to pay, you have to carry physical damage coverage.

This includes both comprehensive and collision coverage options.

While you file a claim against collision for most damage claims when you hit something, the circumstances are different when you hit a live animal.

If the dog ran down the driveway or onto the freeway, the damage to your vehicle would be covered under your comprehensive coverage.

If the dog was laying in the street dead, it becomes an object.

The dog is no longer unpredictable, and you have every ability to turn the wheel to avoid a collision. In this scenario, where the animal is dead, you will be target filing a collision claim against your policy.

You will have to pay your deductible before the insurer pays for the damage.

Will the insurance company raise your rates?

Whether or not your rates will go up after hitting a dog depends on the type of claim that’s filed. If you file a comprehensive claim, your rates won’t be impacted by the claim.

If you file a collision claim, your policy can be surcharged.

Just know that the insurer may try to collect from the dog owner to cover the damage after the repairs are made, which is called subrogation and it’s quite common in the industry.

If you don’t have full coverage, get instantly online quotes to see how much it will cost.

After you have a general idea of how much full coverage will cost you, you can decide if the added protection is worth it.

Never be caught off guard when an accident happens, start comparison shopping to provide you with peace of mind! Enter your ZIP code below to get started!