Insuring your Pet Related Small Business


If you’re just about to start a business in the pet industry, you’ll need to ensure you have adequate Pet Business Insurance in place, as a legal requirement before you launch.

Fri 03 Nov 2017

By Judy

Insuring your Pet Related Small Business

Insuring your pet related small business

If you’re just about to start a business in the pet industry, you’ll need to ensure you have adequate Pet Business Insurance in place, as a legal requirement before you launch. Here’s our guide to the insurance cover you will need for your pet business, and an explanation of the cover and wording on a typical Pet Business Insurance Policy.

Public Liability for your pet business

If you’re going to be working with other people’s pets, you’ll require public liability insurance as a legal requirement, which must be in place for the launch of your pet business. Public liability covers you for any damage to other people, or their property, caused by a client’s pets in your care.

If you run a boarding kennel or cattery your public liability cover can be extended to cover you for any damage caused by pets which may escape from your establishment, or escape while being transported by yourself or a member of your staff.

For a dog walker, your insurer will insist you adhere to certain conditions, such as a maximum number of dogs that can be walked together at any one time, and no exercising of dogs off the lead without written consent from their owners.

It is now possible to arrange public liability insurance on a single policy for pet sitters who also carry out incidental house-sitting, and allow for boarding pets over night in their own home. Your policy should also cover collecting and delivering of pets.

When you buy your pet insurance policy, you should advise your insurer of exactly what activities will be involved in your work to ensure are adequately covered. Public liability cover varies from between £3 million and £5 million, although cover up to £10 million can be bought for an additional premium. We strongly suggest  that you carefully screen all pets that you intend to be in charge of. Insurance is undoubtedly protective for you and your business, but it cannot save you from being liable under law.

Liability to Pets in your Care, Custody and Control

This heading refers to a range of benefits grouped together which are applicable to any small business involved in pets and includes benefits such as:

  • Veterinary Fees - to pay towards the cost of treatment for an illness or injury to any pet that occurs whilst in your care, or shows signs of illness or injury within 72 hours of leaving your care.
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a pet by theft or straying and the cost of advertising and offering a reward for a lost pet. Pets are also covered while they are in transit. Your vehicle, of course, will require separate vehicle insurance and you should make sure that your motor insurance allows for the fact that you are transporting pets commercially. There may be certain insistences about how pets are are carried in your vehicle.
  • For catteries and kennels, the cover for vets fees can be extended to include illness commencing within 72 hours of leaving the cattery/kennel and vets fees can be paid for a period of up to 3 months for conditions arising whilst in kennels..

Cover is usually around £15,000 per incident

Employer’s Liability

If your pet business employs any members of staff, including part time workers, volunteers or unpaid students you’ll require Employer’s Liability. Cover is generally up to £10,000,000.

Professional Indemnity

If your Pet Business plans to give advice and information to clients or members of the public, then Professional Indemnity should be considered. You will be covered for the professional advice that you give, based on your professional training and experience. Your insurer will insist on guidelines on how you give advice in order for you to remain covered. Professional indemnity is recommended for dog trainers, pet behaviourists and pet hydrotherapists. The cover for professional indemnity is normally up to £500,000.

Property Damage

If you work from a business premises, for example, a boarding kennel or cattery, or run a grooming salon, you should consider specialist insurance which will cover your equipment (grooming tools for example) and premises. Insurers can also provide cover you for stock, pet food (including cover for freezer failure with some policies) and monies held for the business. Your business being interrupted for loss of earnings owing to damage caused by an insurable peril can be covered. For businesses such as hydrotherapy centres where expensive equipment such as pools and water treadmills are involved, you need to make sure you are covered against these items being damaged and the potential damage they can cause, such as a leak in your pool.

If you run any aspect of your pet business from your home, ensure you advise your insurer, otherwise any accidents and claims that arise may not be covered.

Note: if you run your business from your home, you may also be able to buy your household insurance from the provider of your business insurance. The public liability element will still be separate however.

Loss of keys and replacement locks cover for dog walkers and pet sitters

If your pet business involves accessing a client’s home when they are not there eg. dog walkers and pet sitters, you should arrange cover for lose of a client’s keys and any necessary subsequent lock changes that may be required.. Never label a client’s keys with their address!

Product Liability for your pet business

Product liability covers your business in the event of you unwittingly using or selling a faulty pet product or equipment, such as a faulty microchip or clipping blade. The knock on effect of the defective product on your clients’ “wellbeing” will be covered by insurance, but you will need to check the limits of the cover with you insurer. This cover is sometimes combined with Public liability on policies designed for dog groomers and pet microchippers.

Personal accident

You may be insured to secure a capital payment in the event of your death, loss of sight or loss of limbs, and a weekly payment, following temporary total disablement. The payments would be made for a finite period and would not commence until a set number of days after the incident which led you to claim.

Pet taxis and pet re-location insurance

There are specialist pet policies that provide insurance for pet taxis, pet-to-vet services and pet re-location services, including overseas. You can also arrange full mortality cover, on behalf of your customer, for pets in transit within the United Kingdom or overseas that will provide door to door protection for their pets.

Special extras for kennels and catteries

Because of the diverse range of services that a kennel or cattery may offer, the public liability insurance requirement is higher, closer to five million pounds rather than three million pounds. As well as boarding cats, dogs and other domestic pets, your business may also offer other pet services including:

  • Boarding of rescue dogs & cats
  • Boarding of council strays and dog warden activities
  • Boarding of specially controlled dogs
  • Grooming & Microchipping of boarders and non boarders
  • Dog training including gun dog training
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Quarantine kennels & catteries
  • Pet Crematorium services
  • Breeding of dogs and cats
  • Retail sales
  • Pet photography
  • Attending pet shows & showing

Your public and products liability insurance can be extended to include the above trading activities. You may wish to take out professional indemnity insurance to cover yourself for the loss of your licence to trade.

If your business involves working with exotic pets or animals which fall under the Dangerous Wild Animals Acts (1976 and 1984) you will need to extend your public and products liability. Additionally, if you allow your pets to be handled by members of the public, (at pet shows for example), you should check that you are covered by for this by your insurance, and extend your cover if necessary.

Insurance for a Pet Shop

Pet Shop insurance is covered by specialist commercial premises insurance.

If you own a pet shop, and part of it is your domestic property, your standard home and contents insurance policy will not be adequate – you will need to get pet shop insurance.

Pet shop insurance should cover damage to the building (including repair and temporary securing of shop windows), damage/theft of contents, stock and pets, malicious release of your stock (pet shops are sometimes targets of the politically motivated), loss of profits, legal costs, damages and expenses if an employee is injured, legal costs, damages and expenses if a customer/members of the public is injured or their property is damaged/stolen while on the premises. You can further tailor you policy to include extras, such as theft by employees.

If you are an owner of a pet shop, it is unlikely that insurance that covers other types of retail shops will be right for you. There are many risks and hazards which pet store owners may encounter that are very different from an ordinary retail environment, particularly if you stock domestic pets. A customer could easily be bitten by a pet, resulting in a compensation claim if you are deemed to have been negligent. Customer clothing and jewellery may also be damaged by pets, or cages with sharp corners. A power cut would be an annoyance in a clothes shop, but a disaster for you if you deal in tropical fish or temperature sensitive reptiles or stock deep frozen pet foods.

Here are the headline covers that are required for a variety of different jobs in the pet industry

Professional Dog Walker

  • Public liability
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control
  • Loss of keys

Dog Taxi Service

  • Public liability
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control
  • Loss of keys

Pet Sitter

  • Public liability
  • Loss of keys
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control
  • Property damage (if you operate your pet sitting business from your own home)

Pet Microchipper   

  • Product liability
  • Professional Indemnity
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control.
  • Property damage

Dog Groomer

  • Public liability
  • Product liability
  • Professional Indemnity
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control
  • Property damage

Dog Trainer or Dog Behaviourist

  • Public liability
  • Product liability
  • Professional indemnity
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control.
  • Property damage cover

Pet Physiotherapy or Canine Hydrotherapy   

  • Public liability
  • Product liability
  • Professional indemnity
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody or control.
  • Property damage cover

Cattery or Boarding Kennel

  • Public liability plus additional cover
  • Product liability
  • Professional indemnity
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody and control

Pet Shop

Insurance should be bought through a shop insurance specialist using a policy tailored for pet shops and cover you for:

  • Public liability
  • Product liability
  • Liability to pets in your care, custody and control
  • Shop stock and contents insurance (this will not cover your animal stock)
  • Property damage cover    

Where to buy Pet Business insurance for your pet related small business

There are several specialist insurance companies offering policies for pet businesses. But we have found Cliverton Insurance to be very helpful and friendly, as well as offering good levels of cover at competitve premiums.