Setting up a business is never an easy task. Aside from all the paperwork and the preparations required, it involves a sum of money which, whether big or small, will take some time to recover. And just like having to purchase home insurance when you buy a house, you’ll need to purchase the right business insurance to protect your business from potentially huge expenses that might come with unexpected events such as accidents in the workplace.
When deciding what type of insurance or coverage you need, it is important to identify your goals, the risks involved, and your budget. Naturally, these will greatly depend on the type of business or the services you offer.
Things to consider
Before you decide on what to look for when purchasing business insurance for your pet care business, it is important to identify the services you provide and the risks involved relating to those services.
What could people sue your business for?
Here is a list of what might trigger a lawsuit or a complaint against your business--which might lead to expenses that can be both expensive and time-consuming:
- Injury to pets. Whether you are a professional dog walker, a veterinarian, or someone with a business that offers grooming services, there is always the risk of your client’s pet being injured.
- Lost pets. This would be more applicable to dog walkers or pet sitters who bring pets to places other than the client’s place.
- Loss of income for bad grooming services. It is not beyond common knowledge that pets can be a source of income for their owners through a number of ways--commercials, contests, and even social media. People even monetize their YouTube channels by simply sharing everything that goes on in their pets’ lives. And when their income is affected by bad grooming services, you know what’s coming your way.
- Medical bills. Freak accidents happen and pets can react in ways that we never expected. When people or other pets are injured (i.e., from dog bites) while your client’s pet is under your care, then you might be found liable for the injury caused.
- Death of a pet. When pets die, whether it’s your client’s pet or another pet killedby the one in your care, expect that grieving pet owner will go after you and your business.
Types of coverage your business might need
- General Liability Insurance. This type of insurance is not just important for pet care businesses. It is a necessity for any type of business because it provides coverage if you ever have a customer who claims that damage or harm to their pets, property, or themselves, was caused by you or anyone in your business. Note, however, that general liability insurance is meant for low-risk businesses. Hence, it is best to consult and get your agent’s advice and not insist on what you ‘think’ you need.
- Business Owner’s Policy. This type of policy covers both commercial property insurance and liability; and therefore has more coverage than general liability insurance. If you own a business that runs on a commercial property where you also have the equipment (i.e. pet grooming centers or veterinary clinics). Depending on the terms of the business owner’s policy, you will have coverage for everything covered under the general liability insurance, protection for damages to your workplace and office/training equipment, and income protection for being unable to operate your business due to damage to your equipment or property.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance. While the general liability insurance covers damages/harm caused by you or your employees, the workers’ compensation insurance covers unexpected expenses when an employee sustains an injury or suffers from any disability while at work or doing their job even if the injury happened outside of the workplace.
- Commercial Auto Insurance. If you or your employees drive a personal vehicle to complete work-related tasks, then it would be ideal to have this insurance as your personal auto insurance will most likely not cover liabilities--and this is definitely worth checking--if you’re found to be using the vehicle for work purposes. For a better picture, imagine you’re on your way to deliver or pick up goods for the business and you run into an accident. Whether it’s damage to the vehicle you’re driving or to someone else’s, should your personal coverage decline claims because you were using the vehicle for work, commercial auto insurance will help cover repair costs, damage to property, and even medical bills for injuries.
- Cyber Liability Insurance. This type of insurance may come in handy when you receive payments online through your website or if you keep sensitive information electronically. If your system gets hacked, it is mandatory in some states that you inform those whose personal information is compromised. This, of course, will have equivalent costs. To add to this, trying to retrieve all the information in your system can be quite expensive. Cyber liability insurance may also protect you from financial losses due to claims or lawsuits filed against your company for negligence or breach of data privacy. A data breach can be costly as it does not only entail expenses to retrieve lost data or to inform relevant parties, but it also poses the risk of lost business due to distrust and negative publicity. But depending on your policy’s terms, even marketing costs to recover from bad publicity following a data breach may be covered.
Aside from the risk of incurring unexpected expenses due to negligence at work, accidents, and the like, complaints against lost items and theft can be an issue if your business is not a one-man-show and you have employees who either face your customers, handle their pets, or simply are involved in the daily operations of the business. Being bonded helps protect your business in situations where a customer’s personal belonging gets lost or stolen while their pet is under your care.
Having ample coverage is important; and so is managing your finances. After identifying the type of coverage you will need for your business, it is important to look at and be realistic about your budget. Should your budget be insufficient for the amount of coverage you need, then rank the coverage according to the amount of risk at stake and the probability of you needing a specific type of coverage in the near future. For example, If you are a professional dog walker and you ride a bike going to your clients’ houses even if you have a car, then getting commercial auto insurance would not be a priority.
All businesses need some form of insurance; but for businesses where lives are at stake, even if they are not human lives, it is all the more important to have the right coverage. So take the time to study your business needs and be realistic about your budget. You’d want to have the best possible coverage and enough money to ensure your policy is always in place and paid on time.