Dog Walking Insurance
Are you running or starting your own dog-walking business? Whether you’re self-employed or a small business owner, you need to have the right insurance in place to ensure that you’re protected from liabilities.
Dog walking insurance provides you with peace of mind. If a dog bites someone while you’re walking them or some other incident occurs that you may be liable for in some way, insurance will kick in.
What Insurance Do I Need for A Dog Walking Business?
Wagging tails and belly rubs are amazing perks of being a dog walker, but a single accident can cause you to lose your business. Dog walking business insurance protects:
- Your employees
Even if you’re self-employed and the only one walking the dogs, self-employed dog walker insurance coverage is something that you should have. As an additional perk, clients will work with you over a competitor if you have insurance and the competitor does not.
Multiple forms of insurance coverage will be necessary to protect your business, including:
General Liability Insurance
One of the most important forms of coverage is general liability insurance. This form of insurance has a lot of moving parts:
- Bodily injury
- Personal injury
- Property damage
However, it’s important to note that you’ll need more than just general liability if you want to reduce your liability risks.
Some of the incidents which are covered under general liability are:
- You’re walking one of your client’s dogs at the park. A stranger walks by, and the dog bites the stranger on the leg.
- You bring your client’s dog back to the client’s home. Instead of putting the dog in its crate, you forget and lock them in the bedroom. If the dog decides to eat through the bedding or destroy the door trying to get out, your insurance will cover this form of property damage.
General liability policies are written in such a way that they protect the dog sitter or walker (you or your employees) from a third-party claim.
Professional Liability Insurance
Dog walkers are professionals, and there’s always a risk that the client’s animal may be injured in your care. For example, let’s assume that you run with a dog that has a bad back. The dog seems fine at first, but when you have them in your vehicle and bring them back to their owner, they start shaking and screaming out in pain.
The dog’s injury may be your fault, causing the client to sue you for damages and payment for the dog’s vet bills.
In this case, when mistakes can happen, professional liability insurance will cover these risks. You may have also heard about this form of insurance called “errors and omissions insurance.”
Commercial Auto Insurance
If you have commercial vehicles that you use in the course of business, commercial auto insurance will protect these vehicles if you have an accident. This form of insurance will protect you from:
- Business interruptions due to being unable to use the vehicle until it is repaired or replaced. The insurer may cover all rental costs for the duration of the repairs.
- Theft of the vehicle so that you can have it replaced if it is stolen.
- Liability claims if you’re involved in an accident.
- Worker injuries.
- Property damage that was caused by the accident.
Customized insurance policies will often offer multiple insurance options for small and large businesses. If you rely on your vehicle(s) for business, it’s important to have commercial auto insurance.
Insurance policies are often riddled with exceptions, and these exceptions will open your business or yourself to liability claims. Umbrella insurance is meant to fill in the gaps to ensure that if a liability claim isn’t covered under your normal insurance, the umbrella policy will cover the costs.
Worker’s compensation insurance may or may not be necessary in your state. Texas is the only state in the country that doesn’t mandate worker’s compensation. This is a form of insurance you’ll need if you have employees.
If you’re a self-employed dog walker, you can skip this section.
Otherwise, worker’s comp protects both your employees and your business. For example:
- An employee is injured on the job, and they cannot come to work. In this case, the insurance will provide cash benefits to the employee and will also cover the cost of medical care.
- If you have worker’s compensation, the employee cannot sue you (*in most cases).
Worker’s compensation insurance will offer medical treatment, vocational and physical therapy, funeral expenses and a percentage of lost wages due to being unable to work.
Bonding is not an insurance in the normal sense, but it does protect your business from claims. For example, if an employee brings a dog back to a client’s home and steals something, your business bonding will help protect you from these claims.
Cost of Insurance
Insurers offer many policy options to better meet your needs. A general liability policy will cost $5 per hour or $15 per day, but this is if you have a short-term policy for very unique circumstances.
You can often obtain a general liability policy for $25 – $30 a month.
If you combine general and professional liability insurance into one policy, you’ll save money and will often pay between $45 and $55 for the two policies.
What Impacts Your Insurance Costs
Your exact insurance premiums will depend on multiple factors, in particular:
- Team size. How many employees do you have? Additional employees add to your business’ risk, which means your insurance costs will rise with every employee that you have on the payroll.
- Location: Busier areas often contain more hazards, leading to higher insurance premiums for everything from general liability to commercial auto insurance.
- Limits: Higher policy limits will cost more money. You will find most dog walkers have a $1 million to $2 million policy limit.
- Duration. Shorter policy lengths will cost more than a long-term commitment. If you need on-demand insurance, most insurers will offer it to you. However, it’s always cheaper in the long term to agree to a longer-duration policy.
As your business grows, it’s important that you readjust your insurance coverage. You can customize insurance and add extras to your policy as your risks increase. It’s important to build a long-term relationship with an insurance company that will recommend changes to your policy to limit risks as you begin to offer new services, walk more dogs or decide to hire new employees.
Dog walking business insurance provides you with peace of mind that a lawsuit against you will not bankrupt your business. If you want to protect yourself, employees, your clients and your business, you need the right coverage in place.