Prior to opening my pet sitting business in June of 1981 I spent 6 months finding an insurance company to write a policy that passed the review of my attorney and CPA for a new industry. Over the years I have seen many insurance companies who wrote pet sitter policies come and go. Finding someone to write a bond for me was simple and inexpensive. Today there are so many sources to choose from!
Knowledge truly empowers us and helps us make informed decisions. So lets learn about Pet Sitting Insurance and Bonding
Pet Sitter bond:
A bond protects the employer from dishonest acts (theft) caused by an employee or IC (Independent Contractor) of the employer.
A bond is insurance that pays for losses resulting from a crime being committed and is only payable after a conviction is achieved. The bond will then be paid to the person the crime was committed against. The bonding company will after the person that they bonded to recover their losses.
The people that work with me are Independent contractors, have their own bonding and provide me with a copy for their file. If you bond an IC, the IRS will automatically consider the IC as an employee of your company and this will open many issues like back payroll taxes, Workmen’s Comp Insurance, Federal and State withholding taxes. NEVER bond an IC.
The cost to purchase a bond can be around $100. It can be worth having for the peace of mind that it gives clients since most believe that being bonded means you have undergone a background check. I have always carried a bond on myself from sole proprietor to S-Corporation employee for customers piece of mind. Each person needs to figure out what they feel is best for their pet sitting company and themselves.
Pet Sitting Insurance:
General Liability and Property Damage Insurance is a form of insurance that protects the policy owner from acts of negligence and/or omissions resulting in bodily injury and/or property damage to another. This specifically covers injury and damage to a third party.
Care, Custody, and Control (CCC) Coverage is the key ingredient to insuring a pet sitter. This provides coverage for the client’s pets and personal property in your care, custody or control which includes pets while in transport in a vehicle, pet taxi and other means. Veterinary medical expenses are also a part of the CCC Coverage and the policy pays claims regardless of the negligence/fault for accident injuries pets.
How General Liability Insurance Protects Pet Sitters:
As a pet sitter, you spend most of your working hours in your clients’ homes – that’s why many pet owners hire you instead of taking their pet to a kennel. But this type of service leaves you prone to certain kinds of third-party claims. That’s where your General Liability policy steps in. It offers basic coverage that protects your pet sitting business against allegations of…
· Bodily Injury. While taking a client’s dog for a walk, it bites a neighborhood boy and the neighbor’s mother sues your business.
· Property damage. When a client returns from vacation, he notices his expensive watch is missing and claims you stole it, even though you didn’t.
· Personal / Advertising Injury. An employee is accused of stealing personal documents from a client’s home, and your business is sued for privacy invasion.
There are a few things to take away from these examples. First, General Liability Insurance protects you wherever you are: in your home office, at a client’s, or walking the dog down the street. Second, General Liability coverage will pay for your financial obligations – medical bills, settlements, legal defense – even if the claim turns out to be fraudulent. Lastly, this coverage protects your pet-sitting business whether the claim is filed again you or an employee.
Property Insurance for Professional Pet Sitters
As a pet sitter, you might be wondering if Property Insurance is necessary for your business – many pet caregivers run their businesses out of their homes or rented offices. It’s true that Property Insurance protects owned buildings from unexpected disasters – high winds, fire, theft – but it’s also necessary for renters and home-based businesses as well. Here’s why…
· Your lease agreement probably excludes you from your landlord’s insurance.
· Your Homeowner’s policy typically excludes coverage for business equipment.
Since most businesses own some kind of property – a computer to keep records and maintain the books – a basic, affordable Property Insurance plan is usually necessary. Let’s say you run a home office and a fire breaks out. Your computer, phone system, cell phone, printer, and fax machine are all affected. Replacing all of those items could easily cost you a few thousand dollars – the question is: Can your pet sitting business afford to replace these items out of pocket?
Another important aspect of a pet sitter’s Property Insurance plan is Bailee’s Insurance, a special coverage that protects your clients’ property while it is temporarily in your care. Primarily, this means animals. If your client’s cat were to get injured, sick, or die while you were sitting, your Bailee’s Insurance could help you pay for the veterinary bills and possible lawsuits.
Insurance for Less: Business Owner’s Policies for Pet Sitters
Many pet sitters are eligible to purchase a discounted insurance package called a Business Owner’s Policy, or BOP. As long as your insurance provider classifies your pet-sitting business as low-risk for General Liability and Property Insurance claims, a BOP may be able to save you money on your business insurance plan.
A BOP combines General Liability and Property Insurance policies, and if it’s unlikely that you’ll face one of these claims, your insurer can give you the two policies together for one lower rate. If you’d like to find out whether your pet sitting business qualifies to purchase a BOP.
Professional Liability Insurance for Pet-Sitting Businesses
Professional Liability Insurance is a necessary part of any pet-sitting business’s insurance plan because it protects you against allegations that your services weren’t up to snuff. As a pet sitter, you must be considerate, trustworthy, and consistent – your business wouldn’t last very long if you weren’t. All of these qualities prevent a lot of professional mistakes from happening, but that doesn’t mean Professional Liability Insurance isn’t necessary.
For one thing, we’re all human and humans sometimes make mistakes or experience momentary lapses of judgment. Consider these situations…
· You overlook a note left by the pet owner that explains not to walk past a certain neighbor’s house (who owns a certain frightful, unleashed dog). Suddenly, the unleashed dog is attacking your client’s dog, resulting in injuries.
· You leave chocolate out, which a client’s dog eats, making him severely ill.
· You accidently leave the front door open, not realizing that the cat can slip through a tear in the screen and run away.
Any of these situations could result in a Professional Liability lawsuit, and your insurance coverage can help you pay for the fallout, including legal defense, settlements, judgments, and medical bills.
Another thing to take away from their examples: animals are unpredictable – and you can’t always guarantee that pet owners will sympathize with you over their animals.
How to get Pet Sitting Insurance and Bonding
You can either join a pet sitting association which is affiliated with an insurance provider, or look for a business insurance provider which can come up with a customized insurance policy for your needs
As my company grew I brought on Independent Contractors I read my liability policy and made sure that it stated that it covered employee’s and Independent contractors.
A pet sitter’s reputation, character, and personality trump all in winning the customer over, but it will not cover the cost of a claim or law suit. We are human things do happen even when we cross our t’s and dot our I’s. As a professional pet sitter, from day one I had insurance and a bond.
FYI: You can find a list of pet sitting insurance companies on our pet sitter resources page.
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Thank you, DebbieGoogle+