Do I Need Insurance to be a Dog Walker?
If you own a dog walking or pet sitting business or you are an independent contractor who works as a dog walker or pet sitter (locally or for companies like Wag and Rover) you need general liability insurance.
If you are an “employee” with a W2 (taxes are taken out of your paycheck) you do not need your own business liability insurance.
What is business liability insurance?
General liability business insurance protects your personal and business assets. It pays for any legal representation, settlements or awards in the event of an accident or negligence by you or one of your dog walkers. General liability insurance also covers issues like false advertising and copyright infringement.
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.
What is Bonding?
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.
Employee Theft Bond
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”.
Do independent contractors need dog walking insurance?
Yes. While the company you work for may choose to cover you, they are not required to do so. As an independent contractor, you basically work for yourself. If you work for a local company, ask them if you’re covered and to see a copy of the policy.
Do I need my own dog walking insurance if I work with Wag and Rover?
The short answer is, I don’t know. It’s very difficult to find information about the insurance Wag and Rover provide. Based on my research, their position is that if there is an incident with a dog, such as a dog bite, the pet owner is responsible. From my experience, someone who sues over a dog bite is going to sue everyone they can, including the dog walker. Even if it’s not your fault, it’s going to be very expensive to prove that. My advice is that you have your own liability insurance if you work for Wag or Rover.