Pet Sitter Insurance: Pet Sitter & Dog Walker Business Requirements

Pet Sitter Insurance: Pet Sitter & Dog Walker Business Requirements

Pet sitter insurance protects various pet service businesses from liability claims. If you have any type of pet sitting business, then you should consider getting insurance.

It is not a requirement to have pet sitter insurance to run a dog walking or pet sitting business, but it is highly recommended. You also want to consider getting a bond if you have employees who have access to your clients’ homes.

There are four main pet sitter insurance providers that service the US. Those insurance companies are covered below.

 

Pet Sitter Insurance Details: What is it and why do I need it?

Pet sitter insurance, or any kind of insurance, is not a very interesting subject. Most people would rather do almost anything else than get into the details involving liability coverage. So let’s get into the details.

You may need pet sitter insurance if you own any type of pet service business. This includes, but is not limited to, dog walking. pet sitting, dog daycare, grooming, pet taxi, dog training, pet portraits, and pooper scoopers.

Basically, if you are bringing pets to your location, or entering clients homes, to care for an animal, then you are involved in some form of a pet sitting service.

The topics you need to understand are liability, bond, and licensing. The bond and the “licensing” are straight forward topics which I cover towards the end of the article.

General liability insurance protects you and your business for injuries or property damage while working as a pet sitter. The insurance pays for legal representation and settlements for accidents or negligence caused by you or your employees.

The most important part protects for injury and property damage. and is specifically for any issues regarding the pets or the owners’ property.

Examples of negligence or accidents are lost keys, broken house items, medical expenses for the pet in your care, injury caused by a dog to other dogs or people, etc.

Here is a good article if you are thinking of starting a pet-related business. They cover insurance, bonding, and other aspects of a pet business. Also, take a look at my series How to Start a Dog Walking Business (5 articles in total).

 

Insurance & Liability

As a pet service provider, you need insurance for liability reasons. Some common reasons to have pet sitter insurance are:

  • In the event, a pet in your care gets sick or injured
  • If a pet in your care injures another pet or person
  • You accidentally cause damage while in a clients’ home
  • You forget to put a dog in a crate or room and damage results
  • The keys to a home are lost and you need to call a locksmith

And there are many other reasons to have liability coverage.

There are 4 main pet sitter insurance agencies that cover pet businesses in the United States. They are listed below with as many details that I could find on them.

I also provide links that have more information if you enjoy reading about insurance. Otherwise, just pick the cheapest one if you are just starting your business.

Also, take a look at the page I found for comparison charts of pet sitter insurance providers for the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

But before that, you need to know about the “Care, Custody, and Control” aspect of liability insurance.

 

Care, Custody, and Control

This is a vital part of pet sitter insurance that is not always offered.

This protects you for accidents that happen while pets are in your “care, custody and control”. It covers the primary place of business which is important for pet businesses like dog daycare, boarding, and training.

Most insurers include this coverage though not all. Each company in this article does. If you are getting insurance from a company other than ones in this article, then check to make sure that this coverage is included.

 

Pet Sitters Associates (PSA)

PSA insurance coverage for pet sitters

PSA offers insurance for its members, and you can have your business listed in their pet sitter directory. Their membership and insurance cost $190 per year. If you need to be bonded then that is an additional $100.

Take a look at the Pet Business Insurance page for details on the plan. There are various add-on options that may, or may not, apply to you.

On that page, they have links to articles on how to start a few different pet service related businesses.

Or go directly to their Membership Application page for additional liability costs such as daycare or obedience classes. The page is set up as a worksheet that calculates all your policy options.

 

Business Insurers of the Carolinas

This is the insurer used by National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International (PSI), which are both large and well-known pet sitter associations.

They provide:

  1. General Liability
  2. Care, Custody and Control coverage
  3. Bonding
  4. Workers Compensation
  5. And more…

You can get their insurance and bond directly thru them or from NAPPS or PSI.

NAPPS is a non-profit pet sitting association. Besides providing pet sitter insurance, they have a lot of resources for their members. The membership costs $135 per year which I assume includes the cost of insurance but contact them for all the details.

Check out this 12-page NAPPS PDF file that covers the bonding and pet sitter insurance in detail.

PSI is, in their own words, “… the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters.” Well, that’s impressive!

So similar to NAPPS, they also provide insurance and educational resources for their pet sitter members. Their membership costs $145 per year.

Note: I could not find details of their liability amounts.

 

Kennel Pro

Kennel Pro lliabilty coverage

Kennel Pro list offering pet sitter insurance for a lot of different pet businesses, but I believe that is standard. It appears they have been a specialty insurance company since 1933, so that makes them the oldest of the 4 companies on this list.

You have to request a quote, but it looks like their Silver package is $425 per year (OUCH!) I assume, the longer you have been in business, then the more you can charge. They must have a track record that justifies the higher rate.

But their Silver, Gold and Platinum coverage plans are specific to different pet service companies. It may be worth looking into the packages if their coverage is the best option for your business.

 

Pet Care Insurance

Pet sitter insurance coverage from Pet Care Insurance

They are covered under an insurer named Veracity, a company that was formed in 2012. As the new guys on the block, they appear to be the cheapest at $129 per year. (I’d go with this one.)

Here is their pet sitter insurance page with the details of the coverage, testimonials, FAQs and informational videos.

Towards the bottom of the page is a table of the actual coverage details of the insurance. And then there is more information and links below that. They have a lot of information that will help you.

 

Bond

You do not need bond with your pet sitter insurance if you do not have employees. This is only needed if you have employees AND they are found guilty of stealing from one of your clients.

If a pet sitter is convicted, the insurance company with whom you have the bond will reimburse the client for the loss.

Don’t get this if you are just starting out in the pet service industry. As you grow and hire employees, then you should seriously consider this coverage.

The one reason you may want it is that it makes clients feel “good”. It provides a level of security and trust for the client.

 

License

There are no dog walker or pet sitter licensing agencies. If you see a company advertise that they are “Licensed” then it means one of two things.

First, they are possible including that title because they have taken some kind of training that assists them in their business. Pet sitters may take training classes or get certifications for pet CPR & First Aid, dog behavior and training, or classes involving starting a pet business.

Secondly, they may be referring to their business license. The business license is just a requirement for local government and has nothing to do with experience or expertise with animals.

Simply put, ignore the word “Licensed” in any part of a pet sitters business credentials. It’s great if a pet sitter has any training or certifications, but it’s not a necessary requirement.

If you are a dog walker or pet sitter, then you need a good reason why you are including that term as a credential. If you don’t have one, then don’t use it. Better yet, just don’t use “Licensed” as a credential

 

Summary

Here is my advice: Get insurance!

Insurance is protection for you when things go wrong. I’m good at what I do, but I have had 2 different dogs get away from me. I was lucky. Both situations ended with a healthy dog. Even though neither situation was my fault, things happen. And they happen in a flash.

If you are just starting out, go with the cheapest pet sitter insurance. Don’t bother with bond until, or if, you have employees. Also skip the memberships, unless you have the money to spare.

Comment below or email if you know of any other pet sitter insurance companies so that I can add them to the list. Or to share any stories relating to your pet business and how your insurance has helped you.

Jim Kernicky

I have been a dog walker and pet sitter for my business Fairmount Pet Service in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia since 2008.

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