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What our Nerds say about dog walking insurance

CONNOR

BUSINESS NERD

When taking care of someone’s four-legged friend, you aren’t just doing a job for them – you are being entrusted with a member of their family.

That is why it is so essential to consider taking out a comprehensive dog walking insurance policy. Not only to protect yourself and your business, but to signal to your clients that you take the health and well-being of their canine companions seriously.

You can find the right level of dog walking insurance, whether you are a self-employed dog walker or run your own agency with multiple employees.

What is dog walking insurance?

While dog walking is an easy business to start if you don’t have much money, you nevertheless might want to consider allocating funds for dog walking insurance.

There is always going to be an element of unpredictability when it comes to looking after a four-legged friend. Even the best-behaved dog can cause a bit of trouble. And even the most responsible dog walker can find themselves in a spot of bother. A good dog walking insurance policy can help cover the financial costs of anything going wrong.

Dog walking insurance isn’t one type of business insurance, but rather a term to describe a collection of individual policies that may be applicable to scenarios you could encounter while on the job.

At the heart of your policy will be public liability insurance for dog walking. This is designed to cover the legal fees and compensation costs if you or the dog in your care causes injury to a member of the public, or damages their property, during your business activities.

» COMPARE: Public liability insurance

Alongside this will usually come care, custody and control insurance. This is in case the dog in your care suffers an injury or illness, runs away and is lost, or were to die, and you were reasonably found at fault.

Non-negligence insurance, meanwhile, covers the same situations as care, custody and control insurance. The difference is that non-negligence cover applies if the injury or illness arose through no fault of your own or your business.

Some providers may label care, custody and control and non-negligence insurance as ‘accident and injury’ cover.

If there is any specialist equipment you use as a dog walker, equipment insurance can help replace anything that is lost, stolen or accidentally damaged.

If you are frequently letting yourself into your clients’ homes with their keys, you may want to consider loss of keys insurance. This will cover the cost of replacing locks if you were to lose your client’s key.

And if you run your dog walking company from a business premise, you might want business buildings and contents insurance.

You will also need employers’ liability insurance if you employ anyone who isn’t a family member and who isn’t based abroad.

» COMPARE: Business insurance with NerdWallet

Do I need dog walking insurance?

There is only one form of dog walking insurance that is a legal requirement in the UK: employers’ liability insurance. If you have any employees that aren’t family members, or based abroad, you need a policy worth at least £5 million from an authorised insurer. Failure to do so may result in a daily fine of £2,500.

If a dog bolted while on a lead, causing your employee to fall and break their arm, for example, employers’ liability insurance would pay for the compensation they are owed.

» COMPARE: Employers’ liability insurance

There are many situations, meanwhile, where public liability insurance for dog walking would come in handy. It could be a dog in your care running into a jogger and causing them to fall over and fracture their ankle. Or if a dog chewed at the furniture in a café when you popped in for a takeaway coffee, ruining the chair. It might even be a case of the dog biting another dog in the park, resulting in a trip to the vet.

In each scenario, public liability cover could pay for any legal fees and compensation costs arising from a claim made against you.

As for care, custody and control insurance, if the dog in your care ate some chocolate you left out on the side and became ill, your cover could pay for the veterinary costs. The same is true if you turn around and the dog had gone missing – if the dog owner then made a claim against you, care, custody and control insurance could pay for any legal fees and compensation costs.

However, if on your routine dog walk your canine friend got stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction, the subsequent trip to the vet could instead be covered by your non-negligence insurance.

What does dog walking insurance cover?

Below we detail what policies are typically included in dog walking insurance, and what might not be included in your package.

What is usually included in dog walking insurance?

While not each of the following policies are automatically found in a dog walking insurance package, they are among the most common:

  • public liability insurance
  • care, custody and control insurance
  • non-negligence cover
  • equipment insurance
  • loss of keys insurance
  • employers’ liability insurance

Many of these policies will be applicable for other pet businesses, including groomers and trainers.

» MORE: What is business pet insurance?

What is usually not included in dog walking insurance?

Broadly speaking, what isn’t included in your dog walking insurance package is down to what you choose to pay for.

So, for example, if you didn’t opt for loss of keys insurance, and you subsequently lost your customer’s front-door keys, you would have to pay out of your own pocket for the locks to be replaced.

You should also be aware that equipment insurance doesn’t tend to cover general wear and tear over time. So you won’t be able to make a claim for a shabby, old leash!

Similarly, if you haven’t followed security best practices when it comes to your equipment – for example, if you don’t lock up your car or building properly – and an item is then stolen, then your equipment or contents insurance may not apply.

How much does dog walking insurance cost?

The price of dog walking insurance will vary depending on the size and specifics of your business. This may include:

  • how many policies you choose to take out
  • the level of coverage you want from each policy
  • how many employees you have
  • where your business is located
  • how many years of experience you have as a dog walker
  • whether you are self-employed or a limited company

How to choose the best dog walking insurance policy for you

Before getting dog walking insurance, it is best to take stock of the needs of your specific business. Are you dealing with clients’ keys? Are you a sole trader? Or do you have employees and a business premise? Do you have equipment that would be costly to replace?

Once you have your answers, you can use the dog walking insurance comparison tool to help find the right deal for your business.

» COMPARE: Dog walking insurance

Dog Walking Insurance FAQs

Do you need insurance to go dog walking?

As a dog owner, you don’t need any insurance to go dog walking. As a professional dog walker, on the other hand, you may need employers’ liability insurance if you have employees who aren’t family members or based abroad.

However, just because you aren’t legally required to have other types of business insurance, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the likes of public liability insurance, care, custody and control insurance, and non-negligence cover.

What kind of insurance do I need to start a dog walking business in the UK?

Unless you are an employer with non-family member employees or ones based abroad – in which case you are legally required to have employers’ liability insurance – you don’t technically need any form of insurance to start a dog walking business.

Yet, it is seriously worth considering taking out a dog walking insurance package that includes public liability insurance, care, custody and control insurance, and non-negligence insurance. This is so your legal fees and compensation costs are covered in case someone makes a claim against you or your business for a situation which you have the correct cover in place.

Do dog walkers need a licence in the UK?

No, you are not currently required to have any form of dog walking licence or qualification to practise as a professional dog walker in the UK.

This changes, however, if you are not only a walker, but a dog boarder as well. Then you will need to apply for a boarding licence from your local council.

Is it illegal to walk a dog without a collar?

Whether the dog in your care is on a lead or not, it is legally required to wear a collar with an ID tag when out in public. This ID tag should contain the owner’s name, address and postcode.

How many dogs can you walk legally?

The number of dogs you can legally walk at once depends on where you live. So it is important before you start your dog walking business that you look up the rules in your local area. Also check whether the dog walking insurance policy you are considering sets its own limit on the number of dogs you can walk at one time.

What kind of excess should I expect?

The size of your insurance policy’s excess – that is, the amount you agree to pay at the start of a claim you make – will be determined by a number of factors. These include:

  • the policy you are claiming on
  • the size of your insurer’s compulsory excess
  • whether you want to pay any voluntary excess (doing so can reduce your premium)

About the author

Connor Campbell
Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more
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