In the U.S. alone, more than $60 billion was spent on pets in 2015. (Yes, that’s billion with a B.) And that’s up from $38.5 billion just 10 years previously. With a growth rate like that, it’s not surprising more and more people are entering the pet care business, working as sitters and walkers, groomers, animal boarders and even pet chefs!
That’s all great news, but with increased business comes more risk and responsibility. That’s a lot of liability on your small business’s shoulders. Have you considered investing in insurance created specifically for pet care businesses?
To help you decide, and provide you with the resources you need to move forward, we’ve rounded up some information to help you protect yourself, your business and your four-legged customers.
Pet Care Business Insurance Policies
Most insurance companies that offer pet care business coverage can tailor your policy to the type of work you do. This ensures that you have coverage that protects your individual business—and that you’re only paying for what you need. Here’s a list of popular policies:
- Home Boarding Insurance
- Pet Sitters Insurance
- Dog Walkers Insurance
- Dog and Cat Groomers Insurance
- Boarding Kennels Insurance
- Other Pet Boarding Insurance
- Dog Trainers and Behaviourists Insurance
If your pet care business doesn’t fall under any of these categories, ask a pet care business insurance company if they can modify an existing policy to cover your needs.
Pet Care Business Insurance Coverage Options
The types of coverage, and the terminology used to describe them, may vary from country to country, but there are a few similarities. The following are some of the main components that make up a policy:
If you enter your clients’ homes, particularly when they’re not there, you might consider paying to be bonded as part of your insurance package. (Note: Not all insurance companies offer this, so be sure to ask.) Essentially, bonding protects consumers against losses from theft or damage incurred by you or your employees. It provides your clients assurance that if something happens to their belongings while your company is in their house, your insurance company will reimburse them. And you don’t have to worry about being sued.
Care, Custody and Control
This is considered the big one for pet care businesses. It relates specifically to the work you do with animals. This kind of coverage is important because it ensures that you can make decisions about the welfare of an animal in your charge, and will be reimbursed for out-of-pocket veterinary expenses if emergency care is required. It may even cover funds for advertising and the reward if a pet goes missing. When comparison shopping, be sure to look for what best applies to your type of business (i.e. a dog walker will have different risks than a pet groomer and there are policies to reflect that). There is usually a range of benefits that come under CCC coverage, but most will include:
- Veterinary fees
- Death of animal
- Animals in transit
- Custodial responsibility
- Loss by theft or straying
Professional pet care providers do everything in their power to ensure the safety and well-being of animals, but sometimes accidents—and illnesses—happen. It’s important that you are protected if an animal is injured, hurt or dies while in your care. Non-negligent coverage applies when it is confirmed that you are not at fault if an accident or illness happens while you’re working with a pet.
This coverage refers to your legal liability if someone—other than an employee—is injured or has property damage due to a pet in your care. Some policies include legal costs as well, such as court attendance for witnesses. Be sure to assess your risk before choosing how much coverage you’ll need for this category. It’s more likely for a dog walker who handles large and/or aggressive animals to need ample coverage than a pet care professional who takes animals into his/her own home or office.
Other Types of Coverage
Here is a list of optional coverage options you may consider for your business:
- Theft insurance
- Lost keys
- Spouse/employee/minor coverage
- Pet taxi (coverage for transporting pets—not auto insurance)
- Computer and other business equipment
If you’re a member of associations such as Pet Sitters Associates or Professional United Pet Sitters (in the U.S.), you may be eligible for discounts on coverage by affiliated insurance carriers. There are pet care associations all over the world that provide training, certification and other helpful advice in addition to giving you a break on insurance.
Pet Care Business Insurance Around the World
Here’s a round-up of some popular pet care business insurance providers.
- Petplan Sanctuary
- National Association of Pet Sitter and Dog Walkers
- PetSitters Alliance Insurance
- Pet Business Insurance
Pet Care Business Insurance Provides Peace of Mind
If you decide to invest in insurance specific to your pet care business, be sure to let your customers know that both your and their interests are protected by a robust insurance policy.
In addition to the peace of mind you’ll enjoy knowing that your business is protected, having insurance is also a signal to your customers that you are a professional service provider. You may consider adjusting your prices to reflect the cost you are incurring to protect yourself and your customers.
The industry is changing at a rapid pace with more competitive rates as new insurance companies cater to the pet care business demographic. Every year, be sure to review your current policy and shop around for better and/or more affordable coverage from other insurance providers. It really is a buyer’s market!
About the Author: Heather Hudson is an accomplished freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publishing, corporate and agency clients who depend on her to deliver high-quality, on-brand content and journalism with a fresh perspective. Learn more about her work at heatherhudson.ca.