If you own a pet boarding service, your clients trust you to take care of their animals when they can’t. If a pet is injured in your care, the pet owner could sue you. Meanwhile, you’ve got to protect your building and all of your commercial property from damage caused by fire, severe weather, and other unexpected problems.
Many of the risks you face as a pet boarding service owner can hinder your success or even force you out of business.
Why Do You Need Pet Boarding Service Insurance?
Pet boarding services are increasingly important for pet owners. According to the 2015 – 2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, dog owners spend about $333 per year on boarding services, while cat owners spend around $130 per year on these services.
Pet boarding services have a lot of risks. You have to deal with the potential for injuries to both customers and their pets while they’re on your premises or in your care. What’s more, you have to protect you own property and your employees from damage and injuries.
You’ll need to work closely with an independent insurance agent to find the appropriate mix of insurance coverage for your unique pet boarding business.
What Does Pet Boarding Service Insurance Cover?
Pet boarding services need a variety of business insurance policies to protect them. These range from standard liability and property policies (that can be tailored with limits and coverage endorsements that fit your needs), to the ever-important animal bailee’s coverage that provides protection for veterinary costs and associated lawsuits if an animal in your care is injured, lost, or stolen.
- Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance: Covers customer injuries and property damage that occurs on your premises. If a pet owner or a delivery person is hurt at your place of business (e.g., a dog bites them) there’s a chance you could be blamed for the injury and sued. If you’re sued, you’ll have to pay for the medical bills as well as your own legal defense and potentially a financial settlement for the injured party. Your CGL policy covers medical bills, property repairs, legal fees, and any financial settlements or judgments you might have to pay.
- Commercial property insurance: Depending on the type of boarding service you operate—from bare bones kennels to luxury suites—your property insurance needs will also vary. You need to protect your building if you own it, along with your equipment, furniture, inventory, and any other property, from fire, theft, vandalism, and weather events. What’s more, you need business interruption insurance if a covered event forces you to temporarily stop taking in boarders in order to make repairs or replace damaged property.
Pet boarding services may qualify for a business owners policy, which will allow you to get the basic coverage you need (liability, property, business interruption) packaged together at an affordable price.
What Is Animal Bailee’s Coverage?
What if an animal in your care runs away or is stolen, lost, or injured?
Animal bailee’s coverage is insurance designed for pet boarding services and others in the pet services industry that temporarily take possession of other people’s pets, with the expectation that they will be returned unharmed.
Animal bailee’s coverage provides protection where a standard property policy does not. Your business property policy will not pay for costs related to the injury, death, or loss of a customer’s pet—or other people’s property that is in your care, custody, or control. Bailee’s coverage may pay for resulting veterinary costs if an animal is injured or becomes ill while in your care, and may even pay for costs related to lawsuits after such an incident.
Professional Liability Insurance for Pet Boarding Services
Pet boarding services might also need professional liability insurance, or errors and omissions insurance. This is tailored liability coverage that protects you if a client claims you have been negligent in providing professional services, such as:
- Professional mistakes, such as administering the wrong medication to a pet that is being boarded at your facility
- Failure to deliver services as promised
- Accusations of negligence
Regardless of whether you are at fault, you will still need to pay for your legal defense if an accusation like this is made. Pet boarders professional liability insurance will help with those costs, as well as any settlements or judgments that you are required to pay.
What Other Insurance Policies Do Pet Boarding Services Need?
Pet boarding services may face a wide range of additional risks that can be covered with business insurance. If you have employees you are likely to need workers’ compensation insurance to protect employees who are injured on the job. Your employees face all kinds of risks, from dealing with multiple, unpredictable pets, to slips, falls, and repetitive motion injuries. This valuable insurance protection is required for most businesses that have employees, and will keep you from being sued if an employee is injured while working for you.
You may also want to look into commercial umbrella insurance, or excess liability insurance. It provides an extra layer of liability protection above and beyond the limits of your CGL and certain other liability policies. It kicks in and provides coverage when those other applicable policies have been exhausted. If you are involved in a significant claim or lawsuit, this coverage can be the difference between staying in business and closing up shop for good.
Commercial auto insurance needs will vary among pet services businesses. If your business owns autos of any kind—even just one—you need commercial auto insurance. What’s more, if you or any employees drive personal vehicles for business purposes, you need non-owned auto liability coverage. Talk to your independent insurance agent about how vehicles and driving are involved in your day-to-day operations in order to obtain the best coverage for your needs.
How Much Does Pet Boarding Insurance Cost?
In general, pet boarding service insurance costs will vary depending on the size of your business, the number of employees you have, the amount and value of your commercial property, the location of your business, and a variety of other variables.
An independent insurance agent can guide you though your options so you get coverage that meets your needs and budget.
Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Independent insurance agents simplify the search process for finding the right pet boarding service insurance. They’ll walk you through some handpicked policy options and explain the details.
Most importantly, they’ll be there for you when claim time comes. They know the ins and outs of the process and will make sure your claim is handled appropriately.
The Lowdown on Online Quotes
Online quotes can be tempting. They are fast and easy to get, but are they accurate? And are you getting quotes for the right coverage? For business owners, choosing speed over accuracy can cost you.
Online quotes can’t and don’t see the whole picture. They can leave out important coverage that will leave you devastated if something unexpected happens. And they can leave out cost-saving opportunities that an agent can help you take advantage of.
Instead of getting an online quote, find an independent insurance agent now, and get one-on-one consultation and affordable options for the best coverage for your unique needs.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin
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Insurance Expert, Paul Martin