How to Choose the Best Dog Walking Insurance
Dog walking is a flexible and enjoyable way of making a living, particularly if you have an affinity with our four-legged friends.
If you run your own dog walking business, having adequate insurance means you are protected from any financial burden should an incident occur whilst dogs are under your care.
Even if you are an excellent trainer and handler, unforeseen incidents can happen. Dogs are – despite their many good qualities – liable to be impulsive and accident-prone. They are often the cause of damage to themselves, each other, property and even occasionally other people.
Even with eagle eyes and a firm hand, there are instances where you will be unable to prevent an incident, altercation or accident from occurring.
Although insurance is not a legal requirement for a lone dog walker, it should be considered essential to afford yourself with vital financial protection and peace of mind. This is the case regardless of the number of clients you provide services for.
Appropriate insurance also demonstrates to clients that you are a professional, increasing your appeal. Knowing that you have insurance will ease their mind that any costs will be covered in the case of an incident. Indeed, many dog owners would not consider employing the services of an uninsured dog walker.
Dog walking insurance is easy to obtain, but you’ll need to think about what you want your policy to cover.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the instances you might want to protect yourself against as well as the different insurance options. You’ll also get answers to the key questions around selecting the right dog walking insurance for you.
There are a range of different circumstances that may warrant the protection dog walking insurance affords. Common scenarios to seek policy cover for are:
- For costs incurred because a dog injures itself in an accident when out walking
- To cover costs if a dog you are responsible for injures itself or another dog in a fight
- To protect against claims if a dog you are walking injures another person
- To cover the cost if a dog you are responsible for damages someone else’s property
- For the costs involved to recover a dog if it gets stuck or lost whilst on a walk
- To cover the cost if you lose a client’s keys – including replacement keys and locks
- To cover costs for any illness that you could find yourself held responsible for
- To cover the cost of replacing your equipment should it be stolen, lost or damaged
- To cover for personal injury whilst walking your clients’ dogs – for both lost income and medical costs
As you can see from this list, there are a number of potential incidents and occurrences that could result in the need for substantial pay-outs on your part. Insurance to protect yourself against these financial risks should be considered an essential investment.
Different policies will provide differing levels of cover – some may include protection for all the above instances, whilst others will only protect against a smaller number of eventualities.
You’ll need to consider the degree of protection you require and ensure your insurance policy protects you adequately from financial burden. Explore the different insurance policy options below.
As mentioned, there are a range of dog walking insurance products on the market, and you’ll want to ensure you select the policy that best meets your needs. You’ll need to consider your individual circumstances carefully.
The relevant insurance products available are:
If you employ staff, it is a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance. This is the case whether they are paid or voluntary employees.
This type of insurance protects you against legal and compensation expenses if an employee files a claim against your business – for example, if one of your dog walkers sustains an injury whilst fulfilling their duties and seeks medical and wage compensation.
If you don’t have employee liability cover and you are found to require it, you will receive a hefty fine.
Having a close family extension clause in your policy enables you to employ a family member without the need for employers’ liability insurance.
This is useful to have if your husband, grown children or perhaps your siblings sometimes help you out with your dog walking business. It means that if anything should happen whilst the dogs are under their care, your business is protected.
If you’re a sole trader and responsible for walking all the dogs on your client roster yourself, you don’t need to have employers’ liability insurance.
You may, however, wish to take out a policy that includes personal accident cover to protect yourself against loss of income and any medical care costs.
This would mean that you would be covered if, for example, you tripped whilst out walking the dogs or became injured separating two dogs who were having an altercation.
Care, custody and control cover protects your business if an animal in your care gets injured, ill, lost or killed.
It should also protect against incidences of animal theft. This type of cover also covers animals in the care, custody or control of any of your staff (should you employ them).
Care, custody and control cover is strongly recommended as a base insurance product to ensure you are protected against a potentially devastating financial burden.
This type of insurance protects you against any negligence on your part. It does not, therefore, cover any costs for dogs with previous medical conditions or disabilities. (To extend your cover to include this, see the section on non-negligent cover below.)
Public liability insurance protects your dog walking business for claims lodged due to injury to a member of the public or for property damage.
For instance, this insurance would cover you if a dog in your care bit or tripped over a member of the public whilst on a walk and the injured party subsequently decided to sue your business.
This type of insurance also covers any injuries to a third party’s dog should an animal in your care get into a fight with another dog.
Public liability insurance is, along with care, custody and control cover, the most common form of dog walking insurance and both should form the basis of your insurance policy.
This insurance is similar to care, custody and control cover but protects you against accidental loss, injury, illness or death of an animal in your care when it is through no fault of your business.
There could be an instance where, despite your business being judged to not have done anything wrong, clients expect you to pay vet bills and/or compensation for accidental injury or death.
In this case, to avoid unpleasant and difficult interactions, non-negligent cover would protect you from shouldering the financial burden.
If you are transporting your clients’ dogs in your car, you will need to ensure that your car insurance covers you if you have a road accident or incur damage whilst using the vehicle for work.
Key cover means that you’ll be covered for the cost of new keys, replacement locks, the re-setting of any security alarms and any call-out costs should you lose a client’s house keys.
Equipment cover protects the equipment you use for your dog walking business against theft, loss and accidental damage. Depending upon the value of your equipment, you can adjust the protection value to meet your needs.
If you run accompanying pet services alongside your dog walking business, you may have invested a greater amount into infrastructure to provide your services and may therefore require a higher level of equipment cover.
Many dog walking insurance policies can also cover you for associated business activities such as pet grooming, pet sitting, home boarding and pet taxi services. Ensure you are protected across all the services your dog walking business offers.
When choosing your insurance, make sure to consider the amounts that you are covered for and any excess that is payable. The amount of cover you need will depend upon the size of your business and the number of dogs you walk. Some policies cover up to an overall amount, whilst others cover up to a certain sum per animal.
Many policies will contain a number of the above insurance products (or the option to add additional features to cover your needs), providing your business with comprehensive protection.
Remember to always shop around for several insurance quotes so you can assess which product provides the best cover for the associated monthly cost.
Here are our top five picks for dog walking insurance that’ll ensure you’re covered in case of an incident – whether it involves property damage or injury to the animals you’re walking, another dog or a member of the public.
1. Pet Care
Cost: Policies start at $139 (£112) billed annually or $13.33/month (£10.80/month)
Extras: You can add an additional insured person or organization to your policy for $10 (£8)
Pet Care, available only in the US, provides customized dog walking insurance to suit your needs.
One of the differences between Pet Care and many other providers is that it offers insurance coverage without the need to join a dog walking association.
The insurance includes:
- General liability coverage – Up to $1,000,000 (£800,000) each occurrence, with a $2,000,000 (£1,600,000) aggregate limit
- Medical expenses – Up to a $5,000 (£4,000) limit
- Animal bailee for animals in your care, custody or control – Up to $5,000 (£4,000) each occurrence, $10,000 (£8,000) aggregate limit
- Veterinarian expense reimbursement, regardless of fault – $1,000 (£800) each occurrence, $5,000 (£4,000) aggregate limit, $250 (£200) deductible
- Lost Key Liability Coverage – Up to $2,000 (£1,600) each occurrence, $2,000 aggregate limit
- Damage to premises rented to you – Up to $100,000 (£80,000) of damage to any one premises
- Personal and advertising injury to protect against prosecution costs or slander against yourself, your staff or your organization – Up to $1,000,000 (£800,000)
Pet Care also offers insurance to cover pet groomers, trainers and sitters, if you provide more than one type of service or are planning to expand your business in the future.
For ease, all policy details and documents can be accessed via your online customer portal.
Cost: Protectivity’s annual policy starts from just £73.59 a year, or £5.41/monthly
Extras: Equipment cover can be increased up to £30,000 if required. You can also add personal accident and/or professional indemnity cover for an additional cost
Protectivity provides insurance that covers 14 different pet industry activities under the same policy, making it a straightforward choice if your business has multiple functions.
The insurance covers:
- Public Liability – For dog walking and 13 other pet care activities (pet sitting, home boarding, pet grooming or pet taxi service) at no extra cost
- Care, custody and control cover – Up to £100,000
- Lost key cover – Up to £10,000
- Equipment cover – Up to £250
You need to be over 16 to apply for Protectivity insurance.
Cost: Get a tailored quote via the website
Extras: Direct Line offers a price beat guarantee for new customers. It will beat your insurance quote or renewal premium from any other insurer
Direct Line offers dog walkers and pet sitters' insurance. You can add cover options to tailor the insurance to suit your business and needs.
The insurance can cover:
- Public liability – Cover can be arranged from £1,000,000 to £10,000,000 (for this policy, this also covers lost key costs)
- Employers’ Liability – If you employ staff
- Theft of takings – From yourself or your employees
- Buildings cover – Including equipment breakdown cover
- Contents and stock insurance – If you run the administrative side of your business from an office
- Business interruption cover – Up to £25,000
- Legal expenses
- Cyber cover
You must be over 18 to apply for Direct Line insurance.
Cost: Petplan Sanctuary offers annual or monthly interest-free billing cycles. Go to the website for a tailored quote
Petplan Sanctuary offers tailored dog walking insurance to match your business needs.
The insurance can be customized to include cover for:
- Public liability
- Employers’ liability
- Professional indemnity
- Care, custody and control of animals – Includes veterinary fees up to £1,250 per animal, £1,250 compensation for the death of an animal, up to £1,250 for loss or theft of an animal, up to £2,000 of cover for animals in transit, up to £300 for loss of fees, and a maximum of £350 for advertising and reward. Note that the maximum total benefit in the period of the insurance is £3,000.
- Custodial responsibility
- Property damage – Covering buildings, contents and/or stock
- Theft of takings
- Loss or theft of keys
You need to be over 18 to apply for Petplan dog walking insurance.
Cost: Cliverton offers insurance from £125 annually. You can also pay via 9 monthly payments of £15.28 (making the total repayable annual cost £137.52)
Extras: You can increase the public liability and product liability limit on your policy to £10,000,000. If you employ staff members, you can add employers’ liability cover up to £10,000,000
Cliverton has over 50 years of experience in insuring animal-related businesses and provides specialist dog walking insurance cover.
The base policy covers:
- Public liability – Up to £5,000,000
- Products liability – Up to £5,000,000
- Care, custody & control – Unlimited cover
- Non-negligent cover – Unlimited cover
- Loss of keys – Up to £10,000
You can also opt to add equipment & property cover, professional indemnity cover up to £500,000, personal accident cover, and public liability cover for events, shows & fundraising.
A family member extension can also be arranged for any spouse, partner, parent or child (over the age of 16), so they can help you out with your business if needed.
Cliverton will sell a dog walking insurance policy to individuals aged 16 and over.
Yes, you should always insure your own pet so that any costs are covered in the event of injury or illness. Veterinary bills can be very expensive, and you’ll want the security of knowing that, should anything happen to your pet, you’ll be able to pay for his or her care.
If you run a dog walking business, it is also likely that you walk your dog at the same time as some of your clients’ pets.
Dogs love to run around and play but can easily cause injury to one another if they get overzealous. This could result in costly trips to the vet which, if you have insurance, will be covered.
Pet insurance policies differ in terms of coverage, so remember to shop around to find a pet insurance policy that meets your needs. There are many providers out there, but Pet Assure offers competitive pet insurance policies.
No, you don’t currently need a license to operate a dog walking business.
There may be other licenses you require, though, depending upon your local authority – some councils require you to obtain permission to professionally walk dogs in certain parks or to walk above a particular number of dogs.
You’ll need to check with your local council to see what the requirements are for dog walking in your area.
If you provide boarding services as well as dog walking, you’ll need a license from your council.
There are also additional qualifications that may increase your appeal to potential clients, such as a certificate in animal behavior or a pet first aid qualification.
The number of dogs your insurance covers you to walk depends upon your policy, so make sure the product you choose is suitable for the size of your business.
Generally, insurance covers dog walking businesses for walking up to a maximum of six dogs per person. It is, however, important to consider how many dogs you can comfortably and safely manage.
The Dogs’ Trust’s guidelines for professional dog walking suggests a maximum of four dogs to ensure that you can maintain control and keep your clients’ dogs – and the dogs and people sharing the surrounding environment – safe.
Insurance is not a legal requirement for dog walking, but it should be considered an essential investment nonetheless. If you don’t have adequate insurance in place, you leave yourself potentially liable for the financial cost of any accident or incidents that may occur.
If the worst happens and there is extensive damage to property or an injury to one of the dogs you are walking, another dog or a member of the public, without insurance you would be left to personally shoulder the cost of any solicitor, vet or compensation fees.
Ensure that an unforeseen financial burden cannot bankrupt your business by taking out a policy to protect yourself. Pet Care offers competitive insurance for dog walking, sitters and groomers.
Dog walking insurance isn’t very expensive considering the level of protection it affords.
Policies start at about $130 for a year and increase with the addition of extra products, increased monetary coverage or a greater number of dogs.
For a small monthly cost, you can protect yourself and your business against almost any eventuality – providing financial security and peace of mind.
It is illegal for a dog to be out of control to the extent that it endangers other people.
If a dog you are responsible for injures someone or makes them feel threatened, you may be open to prosecution. This could result in a fine or imprisonment.
Ensure that you can control any animals you enter a contract to walk. If you don’t feel confident or comfortable with an animal, speak to the owner and do not feel obliged to continue to provide your service.
Certain public spaces have protection orders in place. This means that, when using the space, you will need to keep dogs on a lead and clean up any dog mess responsibly. There may also be limits on the number of dogs that can be walked in these spaces.
Certain public areas will be off-limits to dogs (some, such as beaches, during particular times of the year, for example). Ensure that you heed any signage to show respect to the space and its other users. If you break the rules, you could be fined.
Dog walking can be an enjoyable and rewarding job, but things can unravel quickly if you don’t put a safety net in place for yourself and the dogs in your care.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t be operating a dog walking business without insurance that protects against the injury, illness, loss, theft or death of a dog in your care and covers any injury or damage to a third party (whether it be animal or human) or its property.
This insurance cover should be considered vital and will protect you and your business from any unforeseen costs that could cause significant financial distress. Additional insurance, such as key cover, equipment cover and personal accident cover, should be considered, but may not be deemed necessary.
Without adequate insurance coverage, you’ll struggle to grow your business, as clients will seek the reassurance that an insured operator affords.
It is important to think about your business – its practices, size and assets – and select the dog walking insurance products and coverage level that is right for you.
With the insurance you select in place, you can enjoy being out in nature with the dogs, knowing that you are financially protected.