When starting your dog walking business, one of the most important things you can do is getting pet care insurance. It can save your business from complete failure should something happen while you’re walking a dog. Fortunately, getting pet care insurance is actually pretty easy.
What is pet care insurance?
The word “insurance” usually implies something expensive and (to some people) unnecessary. Think about what you pay for car or health insurance. The thought of it probably sends shivers down your spine! Many people spend hundreds of dollars on health insurance every month, and the last thing they want to do is add another monthly bill.
Even so, it’s tough to argue the importance of insurance. Stuff happens. If a dog you’re walking attacks another dog or person, you’re liable. The Insurance Information Institute states that insurers pay an average of $33,230 per claim. That’s definitely not something you want to be on the hook for. If you don’t have insurance, the victim will come after your business. If you’re a sole proprietor, they’ll come after you personally.
Pet care insurance is your safeguard against something like that happening.
How does pet care insurance work?
It works the same as any other insurance. The company charges you a fee, and in exchange it provides you with coverage should the unexpected occur. Since accidents involving dogs are collectively rare, the insurance company spreads the cost among their entire pool of customers. If a claim costs $10,000 and 1,000 people are paying $10 per month, the insurance company has the money to pay out one claim per month.
Generally, these insurers will cover you if the dog under your care bites another dog or human, is hurt/injured while walking, or causes property damage. It will not cover theft occurring at a home you or your employees service, however. That falls under the purview of bonding.
What is bonding?
There are two types of bonds: surety and fidelity. A surety bond is basically a guarantee to a client that you will pay them a set amount in the event that work is not completed. In the pet care business, you won’t really need or deal with such a bond. A fidelity bond, on the other hand, covers theft and dishonesty.
For example, if something is stolen from a client’s home by you or your employees, the fidelity bond would cover the cost of replacement. Another thing covered by a fidelity bond would be an employee claiming to have provided a service they didn’t actually provide.
You often see pet professionals tout that they’re “insured & bonded” on their website. It’s great peace of mind not just for the dog walker, but for the clients who know if anything goes wrong it’ll be resolved.
Do you need both insurance and bonding?
We unequivocally recommend pet care insurance. The outcome of an accident occurring while you’re on the job with someone’s pet is far worse if the financial obligation falls entirely on you. You may be great with animals, and all the dogs you watch may be sweethearts, but you never know.
As far as bonding, the answer to that is, “possibly, depending on your circumstances.”
If you don’t have any employees and are going about this on your own, you may not need it. If you’re not planning on stealing from your clients’ homes, there’s not much to worry about. Just to be clear: if you are planning on stealing from clients’ homes, don’t do that ????!
Any business with employees working in other people’s homes should always get bonding.
Where can you get pet care insurance?
While you can contact many companies and inquire about insuring just about anything, there are some who specialize in the pet care industry. We’ve found a few doing just that, and their prices start as low as $10 per month. If you want to get started right away, we recommend the following providers for fast access:
PCI – They insure all sorts of pet care businesses: trainers, walkers, sitters, groomers, and kennels. They even insure breeders through their partnership with CNA Insurance. You can get your insurance plan online in just a few minutes, and their general liability coverage extends up to $1,000,000 per claim, starting at $129 per year. This is great for solo walkers and businesses with multiple employees.
Pet Sitters Associates – Their insurance plans specialize in pet businesses and are administered by RPS Eau Claire. Their plans start at $190 per year, which is a little bit more expensive than PCI, but they have no deductible for their claims. They also have a business directory you can appear in to increase your exposure.
Mourer Foster Kennel Pro – They’re bit more expensive than the other offerings, starting at $400 per year. They’re an insurer that has been around since 1933, and they have a lot of options for pet care businesses.
The Hartford – Pricing depends on your area and other factors, but you can fill out their form and get a personalized quote. They’ve been doing business since 1810.
InsureOn – They provide insurance for a variety of pet care businesses; walkers, vets, shelters, mobile groomers, you name it. Since they offer so much, you’ll need to fill out a quote form for pricing.
PetBizInsurance.com – They don’t make it simple to buy your insurance online like PCI and Pet Sitters Associates, but they’ve been in business a long time and have a good reputation.
Pet Pro – Offered by NIP Group, Pet Pro offers a large number of insurance services mostly tailored toward businesses and not individuals.
Insurance is instrumental in the success of your business.
Regardless of the provider you choose, pet care insurance should definitely be at the top of your to-do list when getting your business off the ground. Once you’ve got that, then you can work on advertising your pet care services.