Pet Sitting Insurance: Why Having “Great References” Is Not Enough When Hiring a Pet Sitter.

Pet Sitting Insurance - Why is it so important

Let’s start with a story…

A couple wants to hire a pet sitter for their 2 kitties, but are a bit shocked with the pricing they find on the internet. After asking Facebook for a few recommendations, they meet with a young woman who is pet sitting in her spare time. Everything looks great, until the wife asks if the pet sitter carries the “pet sitting insurance” she’d seen on some pet sitting company websites.

The pet sitter shrugs, and with a big smile replies that she didn’t need insurance. She pulls a sheet of paper with a list of families she had pet sat for in the past. “I have great references!”, she assures them. The couple hires the young lady to care for their cats the following week.

Four days into their vacation, the couple receives a text from their pet sitter. The cats are doing great, but on her last visit, the pet sitter had accidentally driven into the house’s garage door, causing extensive damage. As a result, the couple has to spend hours of their vacation on the phone to arrange for estimates and schedule repairs. The total cost ends up at over $7000.

Ultimately, the home insurance provider agrees to reimburse the couple for the repairs, but a $1000 deductible has to be paid. The pet sitter apologizes for her mistake, but is in no financial position to pay for the damage she’d caused, including the deductible.

What’s going on?

Although not every pet sitter’s insurance claims are that extreme (though some are more costly, like dog bite claims), this story illustrates that if a pet or homeowner decides to hire uninsured help, it could end up very costly in case of an incident. Furthermore, home insurance providers may not always agree to process a claim for an incident caused by a third-party, who otherwise should have been insured.

The lesson learned here is that If the couple would have hired a pet sitter with proper business liability insurance, the repairs would have been at no cost to them, and without the dreaded increase in premiums.

Insurance for Pet Sitting. A new thing?

Actually, it is not.

Patti Moran, President and founder of Pet Sitters International, worked with Business Insurers to create the first business insurance specifically for pet sitters in 1992! That is at about the same time that “professional” pet sitting started to be recognized, especially in the United States.

A few years later in 1998, Pet Sitters Associated (PSA) started offering insurance specifically for pet sitters.  As the pet care industry has evolved throughout the decades, it has become accepted among professional pet sitters that you are not considered to be running a “legit” business if you do not carry pet sitting insurance.

Pet Sitting Insurance is for…

Pet sitting liability insurance covers the incidents that regular business insurance and home-owners insurance will not. Specifically, it covers care custody and control of the pets (for example, injuries to the animal while under the care of the pet sitter) and coverage for the client’s personal property. It will also cover injuries to third parties caused by a dog bite or attack, caused by the pet or to the pet by another animal.

In other words, pet sitting insurance will cover for honest mistakes that even the best pet sitters may occasionally make.

Pet Sitting Insurance is not…

It is important to be aware however that Pet Sitting Insurance is not a replacement for pet medical insurances. It would not apply for an existing or underlying medical condition, or for an injury not caused by the pet sitter’s negligence (say, if Fluffy were to fall off the bookcase). It also cannot be used for property damage that occurred before the pet sitting assignment, and that has not been caused by a pet sitter negligence.

Pet Sitting insurance is also not a substitute for Worker’s Compensation.  

What if your pet sitter claims to be insured through an online dog walking service or app?

As much as we hate to say it, pet sitters contracted through on-demand services and apps don’t carry the same level of protection as those with independent, specifically customized business coverage. Once again, so many people are quick to hire a pet sitter, or a dog walker solely based on their “reviews” (aka references) and without proper consideration of what is actually covered, even through a “guarantee” provided by an app.

Although the purpose of this blog post is to illustrate the importance of hiring a professional pet sitter with proper insurance coverage, it would be incomplete without a quick overview of the fine print pet owners agree upon when hiring a pet sitter or a dog walker through an on-demand app or service. As with recent cases in the news regarding other on-demand services like Uber or AirBnB, the supposed guarantee or coverage provided by on-demand apps is at best misleading, and at worst completely inapplicable to most situations.

For the purpose of this blog, we have reviewed the fine prints of two popular on-demand dog walking services (operating in Calgary) and they both clearly imply that payouts from their “guarantee” or “insurance” will be used only as a last resort if the pet sitter is unable or unwilling to pay – or if there isn’t any other insurance plan in place. In both instances, they strongly suggest that their pet sitters should carry their own insurance to have enough coverage – and very few of them will.

Without seeking legal advice, these policies seem to be purposefully evasive as to what will be covered, and to what extent, in case of an incident with the hired pet sitter. Depending on who you ask, these policies can be interpreted in many ways – and not always to the advantage of the pet owner. The risk of lawsuits against the pet sitter is also very real.

Referring back to our story of the pet sitter damaging the garage door, it is clear that if she would have been hired through an on-demand service, the company would expect the pet owner to file a claim through their home insurance first. Same with clients with pet medical insurance already in place in case of an injury.  The costs can quickly add up, as the following examples show:

General Liability Claims as published in the Pet Sitter’s World Magazine May/June 2019 Edition and Jan/Feb 2019

  • Two dogs in a sitter’s care got into a fight and both dogs were injured. Total Paid: $2021
  • A sitter made an error in her scheduling calendar and missed 3 cat visits. The cat was brought to the vet. Total Paid: $1351
  • The pet sitter shut a cat in the client’s bedroom by mistake. The cat urinated on the bed and duvet. Total Paid: $1844

In conclusion, many people who venture into the pet care industry (as professionals or otherwise) don’t always have a full understanding of the risks associated with this line of work. Just because you are a great pet sitter, with great references or reviews, doesn’t mean that you will never make a mistake.  

Going in with a pet sitter, and only the good word of their previous clients, is no longer the safest way to go.  

Interested in carrying Pet Sitting Insurance? Here’s the 3 main Canadian Pet Sitting Insurance companies:

BINKS
Canadian Pet Pro /Verge
ProFur

Written by Paskapoo Pet Services
All Rights Reserved, 2019. 

Recent Posts

Pet Sitting Insurance: Why Having “Great References” Is Not Enough When Hiring a Pet Sitter.

Let’s start with a story… A couple wants to hire a pet sitter for their 2 kitties, but are a bit shocked with the pricing they find on the internet. After asking Facebook for a few recommendations, they meet with a young woman who is pet sitting in her spare time. Everything looks great, until Read More…

Celebrating PSI’s Professional Pet Sitter Week 2019!

Paskapoo Pet Services to celebrate the 25th Annual Professional Pet Sitters Week™, March 3-9! Business owner Kathleen B. will use the annual observance to celebrate industry success and encourage local pet owners to learn more about the advantages of using a professional pet-sitting company. Calgary, AB (March 3, 2019) — Paskapoo Pet Services encourages pet Read More…

Looking for the perfect Dog Walker

How to find the perfect dog walker for your pooch! The Holiday Season is approaching, and you are ready to take on those New Year’s resolutions. In 2019, would you consider hiring a dog walker for your pup this year? After all, you work long hours and it saddens you that he’s home alone all Read More…

The story of Salsa

If you’ve been on this Blog before, you’ve realized by now that we are big advocates for professional pet care, when it comes to looking after your pets while you’re away. In our previous blog post “If everyone’s friends could be reliable pet sitters, we’d be out of business very quickly…“, we’ve explained how, over and Read More…

If everyone’s friends could be reliable pet sitters, we’d be out of business very quickly…

Don’t take the chance! If everyone’s friends could be reliable pet sitters, we’d be out of business very quickly. Thing is, when you leave your friends and family with the responsibility of your dear pets, you risk being without care at the last minute. We see it all the time! When popular vacation times and Read More…

Why Is Your Pet Sitter Not Picking Up the Phone?

You’ve just booked your perfect vacation for the summer. Then it hits you: Who’s going to care for Bella, Thor, or Twilight Sparkle? You’ve heard about professional pet sitters, and the advantages of real care for your pets. You want the full peace of mind a professional can bring, plus all the little perks like Read More…

So, You Want to Be a Professional Pet Sitter? A Paskapoo Reality Check.

Congrats on taking your first steps into the Pet Care Industry! But before you join the select club of self-employed entrepreneurs in the pet industry, let’s confirm: are you sure this is the right path for you? We have found that the general population does not know what professional pet sitting truly is, or the Read More…

Why We Require Daily Pet Sitting Visits For Cats – a Paskapoo Confession

Every now and then, we receive inquiries for cat care where clients request visits that are every other day, every third day, or only once or twice a week. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that Fluffy is left alone overnight, and nothing happened in the past. It shouldn’t be a problem for Read More…

Top Five Reasons Why Pet Owners are still hesitant to hire a Professional Pet Sitter!

Top Five Reasons Why Pet Owners are still hesitant to hire a Professional Pet Sitter! Lots of Pet Owners look into hiring a Professional Pet Sitter but stop before signing up their beloved pet. Why do some still hesitate? Here’s the top five reasons we run into, and why we think you need to consider Read More…

Your Professional Pet Sitter Can Do That?!

Your Professional Pet Sitter can do that?! When you are away on vacation or at work, you trust your professional pet sitter for the care of your pets. But did you know that beyond pet sitting and dog walking, your professional pet sitter can do much more for their clients? Here’s a list of things Read More…