Do you need insurance to become a dog walker? Tips and Tricks

Are there different types of business liability insurance?

There are two main types of business insurance. An insurance agent can help you choose the right policy for a dog walking business.

  • Commercial General Business Liability policy for higher risk businesses
  • Business Owner’s Policy for lower risk companies.
  • The dog walking industry also has specialized insurance products available. I have listed at the end of the article for your reference. I also recommend consulting with an independent insurance agent.

    Bonding protects you in the event that your company or one of your pet sitters is accused of theft. There are a few options when looking at bonds. Your insurance agent should be able to help you determine which is the right fit for your business.‍

    ‍Due to the nature of dog walking your employees will primarily work in customers’ homes. A fidelity bond will provide coverage for fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by your staff. You can then use the proceeds to reimburse your customer. There are three types of the fidelity bond.

  • Name Schedule Bond: A Name Schedule Fidelity bond covers specifically named employees. When you hire or fire someone, you need to inform the insurance company of the new name. With this type of insurance, you need “absolute proof” that the person accused actually committed the theft. This is sometimes referred to as a conviction bond because the person accused must be convicted of a crime to collect the insurance.
  • Blanket Position Bond: Blanket Position Bond’s covers a specific position within your company. This type of bond does not require you to update the insurance company and does not require “absolute proof” to collect on a claim.
  • Primary Commercial Blanket Bond: A Primary Commercial Blanket Bond covers every single employee in your company regardless of position. Like the Blanket Position Bond, you do not need “absolute proof”.
  • If you ask, many independent dog walkers or pet sitters will not have any of the above mentioned policies. They are costly and often, out of range of a one-person operation. You’ll want to read closely, the level of coverage provided by referral or match-making sites that simply pair you with someone who filled out an on-line profile. The pet sitting and dog walking industry has grown exponentially in the past ten years and while competition may drive prices down, be careful to consider your total costs, including any risks.

    Pet owners have a lot of choice when it comes to the care of their pets. Twelve years ago when we started Peak City Puppy, there were only a handful of dog walking companies in Apex, Cary and Raleigh and most of them were one-person operations. The internet, social media and platforms like Nextdoor, or Rover enable many Triangle residents to simply post “Pet Sitter Needed” and get barraged with replies. The convenience and price of individual providers is understandably alluring. But, what if something goes wrong?

    At a minimum, the pet sitter or dog walker you hire must carry a General Liability Policy to cover a lot of the unexpected accidents that are common when caring for both your pet and your home. We also highly recommend that you seek someone with a Workers’ Compensation policy as dog walking is sometimes dangerous or accident-prone work. Innocent large-breed dogs can pull a dog walker to the pavement. Even the smallest dogs can do damage from fear-biting. Slippery front steps during the icy winter months are another potential hazard. Here are the policies we maintain and recommend at a minimum:

    Lesley White is Founder of Peak City Puppy, a company she built with her own four-legged family in mind.

    You’re headed out of town last-minute and forgot to book service for your dog. You call the neighbor kid down the street. It’s only for a couple days. No big deal, right? Unfortunately, a number of things can go wrong (and do!) when someone else is taking care of your pet:

    How To Get Bonded And Insured For Dog Walking

    Not all insurance companies offer dog walking policies, but more are entering the arena as professional dog walking continues to grow. The best way to find reliable insurance coverage is to do your research.

    We recommend Pet Care Insurance via Veracity Insurance Solutions and Lloyds of London. You can also ask fellow dog walkers what they use and consult with a local insurance professional.

    In addition to dog walking business insurance, you need to look into bonding requirements in your area. Many companies that offer dog walking or pet sitting insurance also provide bonding.

    First, what is bonding? In general terms, bonding is a type of insurance that protects your customers against any losses caused by the contractor (the walker). Specifically, being bonded as a dog walker provides your clients compensation in the event of theft or property damage.

    Bonding requirements vary by state. Some states require bonding before you can even register your business or purchase insurance. Even if it’s optional in your state, you should still get bonded. Why?

    Purchasing a pet sitting bond is an excellent business practice. Being bonded helps assure potential clients that you’re trustworthy and you won’t abuse your access to their home or the well-being of a family member.

    TIP: If you have employees, you should obtain a fidelity bond to protect you as a business owner. This type of bond covers you against any losses resulting from dishonest acts by your dog walking staff.

    Do Dog Walkers Need Insurance?

    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.