First of all, I have sad news to report. A couple of weeks ago, our cat Rufus (who many of you will know from Planet Germany) was run over by one of my neighbours. He suffered multiple pelvis fractures – and although he underwent an operation to pin the bones back together, he didn’t recover. Rufus, terroriser of rodents, shredder of soft furnishings, sunbather supreme is no more.
Now that I have become German, of course I knew better than to leave the matter there. After all, I had suffered a loss. Someone should be sued. More to the point, there was a small matter of a substantial four-figure vetinary bill to be paid. So after discussion with my neighbour, she reported the accident to her insurance company and I filed a claim. Yesterday I received a response from the insurance company.
For those who don’t read German….it explains that the insurers are willing to pay €750 compensation for the loss of the cat. However, they blame the behaviour of the cat himself, in lying down under the wheels of the insured vehicle, as the cause of the accident and therefore accept no liability. They are unwilling to cover medical expenses of the cat over and above this figure, as this would exceed the total value of the cat.
This raises a number of questions:
First of all… is €750 indeed the value of a cat in Germany? If so, I should never have had my female cat neutered! I could have made a small fortune from her offspring! How do they arrive at this sum? Does each cat have to be dead before I can claim it?
Second, are cats held legally, morally and financially liable for their actions in Germany (i.e. more liable than say, motorists…)? If a child had been run over, would the medical costs have been paid for (almost certainly)? Are cats therefore deemed to be more intelligent/responsible than children?
Third. Given that no financial support is forthcoming for medical treatment for the cat, what should I in fact have done? To fail to take the cat to the vet would have counted as animal neglect or animal cruelty in Germany – a criminal offence. Should I have risked jail by not treating the cat? Or does the insurance company think I should have asked my neighbour to reverse back over the cat, just to make sure….
What would poor old Rufus have said to the insurers?