If you’re setting up a pet-sitting business, you will primarily be concerned with finding clients and trying to ensure regular work. But you also need to consider other factors.
What will you do if the pet you’re looking after gets ill or is involved in an accident? What if the owner tries to claim it’s your fault? Or what if a dog you’re walking attacks another dog or even bites a person? Or, what if you lose a client’s keys and have to pay for a locksmith to come out?
In all of these instances, you could be held liable by the pet owner or third parties and may need to meet substantial financial claims. These potential costs are where insurance is beneficial, and there are dedicated pet-sitting insurance policies available.
Do You Need Pet Sitting Insurance?
Not every business needs insurance, by law, but this does depend on the type of business you run and the daily activities you undertake as part of that business. Pet sitting requires either visiting a client’s home to look after their pets or having those pets come to your home to be cared for. Most pet sitters work alone and rarely employ other people, but if you do employ others, you will need insurance to cover them in case they cause damage. Insurance even protects you against fraudulent or illegal activity undertaken by an employee.
However, as part of the pet-sitting model, it may be necessary to take the pet out in public, and there is always the danger of the pet becoming ill or the pet sitter causing accidental damage to the client’s property. In these regards, insurance can prove vital to the financial survival of your business as well as your own financial protection.
Liability insurance is a key component of pet-sitting insurance. Even if you don’t plan on taking the pet out in public, there may be occasions when you need to. If the pet gets ill, for example, and you take it to the vet. Liability insurance protects you against damage or injury caused by the pet to third parties. As well as the danger of the pets attacking other animals or people, it can protect against damage they cause to property.
Or, if you let the dog out in the yard and it bites a neighbor, this should also be covered by public liability insurance.
Another important aspect of pet sitter insurance is animal bailee or animal coverage. If an animal in your car gets ill or is injured, it is your animal bailee policy that covers these costs. This is similar to standard pet insurance except that it covers any pet in your care. Check maximum and occurrence limits, as well as any limits on the number or types of pets covered. Animal bailee insurance covers you for any incident that you are legally liable for.
Veterinary reimbursement protects you against the cost of vet visits, regardless of whether you are at fault or not. If a dog you are caring for suffers some illness, and it isn’t your fault, you still need to take it to the vet to get the care it needs. The vet visit will come out of your pocket, but you are protected by a veterinary reimbursement policy. Again, check limits and coverage levels to ensure you are fully protected.
If you offer additional services, for example, grooming, then inventory coverage can protect the products and items that you carry with you and use for your business. If a set of clippers gets destroyed, inventory coverage will pay to replace them. Otherwise, you will be without clippers until you can find, source, and afford a new set.
Bonding is not, strictly speaking, insurance, but it is similar and is often included in an insurance and bonding package. If items belonging to your client go missing while you’re caring for their pets, it can be a nightmare situation for you and your business. Bonding doesn’t prevent this from happening, but it does protect you against any claims of this type.
Another nightmare scenario for a pet sitter business is that an employee becomes injured while caring for a pet. If a dog bites them, for example, they may be unable to work and may suffer serious injuries. If you employ anybody as part of your pet-sitting business, you should ensure that you have liability insurance to cover against injuries or illnesses they suffer while at work.
Several companies offer specialist pet sitter insurance policies. These policies include most, if not all, of the coverage above. Do make sure that you have appropriate maximum coverage levels, and that the policy has all the required elements. Consider changing limits to reduce the policy cost, or to increase coverage, and shop around to get the best deal on the most appropriate pet sitter insurance policy.
Featured Image Credit: Kzenon, Shutterstock