Finding the right business insurance for your dog walking business is an important step in protecting your business and achieving long-term success.
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When you run a dog walking or pet sitting business, there are many risks that you must be prepared for. From a cat suffering an injury while in your care to a dog escaping and hurting a passerby, animals can be unpredictable and add to the hazards your business faces. With a careful selection of business insurance, you can ensure that your company is financially shielded from common risks.
What insurance coverage do I need for my dog walking business?
There are many types of insurance coverage to consider, but these policies are particularly relevant to dog walkers:
General liability insurance is a crucial coverage for dog walkers and pet sitters. This type of policy covers third-party claims of accidental bodily injury or property damage. Since dog walkers and pet sitters often have unrestricted access to other people’s homes, there’s a high risk that a client’s property could be damaged or someone could be injured—and your business would be held liable.
General liability insurance can provide financial coverage to defend against third-party suits claiming bodily injury or property damage. Additionally, general liability insurance can provide for any medical expenses in the case of a third-party bodily injury.
- Property damage: One of your dog walkers accidentally knocks over an expensive sculpture at a client’s home, causing severe damage to the scultpure. General liability insurance would provide funds to cover the damage.
- Bodily injury: You are walking a group of dogs when one of them slips his leash and attacks a runner. General liability insurance would pay for the runner’s medical costs as well as covering your legal fees and any settlement costs if there is a lawsuit.
When you take dogs into your care as a dog sitter or walker, you are responsible if they are injured or lost. General liability insurance typically excludes coverage for property in your care, custody, or control—which includes pets in your care. Bailee’s coverage can step in to provide coverage in these situations.
Sometimes called animal bailee coverage, this type of insurance can cover customer losses if a pet is harmed while you are taking care of it. Some insurers will add this coverage to a general liability policy by endorsement; it is also available separately.
- While you were pet sitting for a cat, the cat ate several strings of decorative ribbons and had to be rushed to the vet to have them removed. Bailee’s coverage would pay for the veterinary bills.
Because pet sitters and dog walkers have access to clients’ homes, there’s a risk that valuable property or money could be stolen by your employees. Although thorough background checks and careful hiring practices can lessen this risk, it’s important to protect yourself in case theft does occur. Fidelity bonds can provide financial protection from these incidents, and they can also protect your company from internal theft or fraud committed by an employee.
- Several thousand dollars in cash goes missing from your client’s home after one of your new dog walkers picks up a dog. Your fidelity bond would pay for you to reimburse the client.
Many dog walkers drive to various locations and transport animals using their personal cars. It’s important to be aware that personal auto insurance may not be sufficient if you are at fault in an accident while driving a personal vehicle for work purposes.
In these situations, hired and non-owned auto insurance can provide coverage for physical damage to vehicles, third-party bodily injury, and property damage. It can be purchased as an endorsement on a commercial auto policy or obtained separately.
- As you are on your way to drop off a dog at a client’s home, you drive onto the highway and end up hydroplaning and colliding with another car. Hired and non-owned auto insurance would cover the damages.
- Workers’ compensation insurance covers employees’ medical costs and a portion of lost income if they suffer an injury or illness caused by their job. Most states legally require this coverage for companies with employees. If you work independently and do not have employees, you may not need this coverage, but if you do employ others, it’s crucial to check with your state laws to make sure you are in compliance.
- Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) protects your business against lawsuits by prospective, current, or former employees accusing your business of wrongful treatment such as discrimination, harassment, or other employment-related issues.
- Commercial auto insurance provides coverage for any vehicles that are leased or owned by your company. Commercial auto insurance protects your business if it is at fault for causing a crash and causes bodily injury or damages someone else’s vehicle or property. It can also protect the value of your vehicle against crashes, theft, and other covered perils.
Pricing and Quotes
Pricing for business insurance will vary based on the type of insurance coverage and the risk profile of your business. Insurers consider factors such as:
- Business size
- Number of employees
- Claims history
Businesses with higher risks will have higher premiums than those deemed lower risk. For example, a dog walker with a history of frequent claims will face higher premiums. Premiums also rise as you increase the limits of insurance. Different insurance companies have different models for rating risks, so it is worth comparing pricing across different insurers.
In order to get an accurate estimate on pricing, it’s best to get a quote from a reputable insurance company. Below we’ve highlighted a few of our trusted partners who offer coverage for dog walkers and pet sitters:
|Provider||Business Interruption||Business Owner's Policy||Commercial Auto||Commercial Crime||Commercial Property||Cyber Liability||Employment Practices Liability||General Liability||Product Liability||Professional Liability||Workers' Compensation|
There are many hazards that could have an impact on your dog walking or pet sitting business. Business insurance can help your company cope with unexpected incidents such as a pet being injured in your care, another person being injured as a result of your work, or one of your employees stealing from a client. With the right insurance policies, you will have the financial protection you need to weather negative events that may arise.