Having the right insurance and the right amount of coverage is a fundamental necessity for any business, large or small. That’s especially true when your line of work involves teeth and claws. If you own a pet grooming or mobile pet grooming business (or have a pet shop that provides that service), here’s what you need to know about your risk of exposure and the insurance policies that can protect you from liability claims by customers and employees and loss or damage from disasters.
What’s the Risk?
We Americans love our pets and spend outrageous amounts of money on them. According to the American Pet Products Association, we’re on track to shell out $58.51 billion toward pet care by the end of 2014; $4.73 billion of that will be spent on grooming and boarding. All that bathing, trimming, blow drying, tooth cleaning and nail clipping sets up the opportunity for biting, scratching and workers comp claims from your employees. At the same time, you’re liable for professional mistakes, injury to the animal in your care, claims that you’ve misrepresented your services and breaches of contract. That doesn’t begin to address injuries that happen to your human customers while they’re on your premises. And you thought all you needed to succeed were some clippers and a love of animals!
Critical Coverage for Your Pet Grooming Business
General liability is a must-have. It will protect your business from the most common forms of liability claims such as:
- Bodily injury like the delivery guy slipping on the steps of your shop and breaking his leg or a dog in your care biting another customer.
- Non-physical injury claims like misleading advertising or personal injury involving invasion of privacy, copyright infringement and libel or slander.
- Third-party property damage like busting Princess Snugglewump’s custom Gucci harness.
Property insurance protects your premises and possessions from loss or damage due to fire, theft, vandalism or wind. It covers the structure (assuming you own it), your professional equipment, your inventory and supplies and furnishings.
A BOP, short for Business Owner’s Policy, can save you some money by combining the coverage features of general liability and property insurance in one policy. It is typically available for businesses considered to be at low risk, so if you specialize in cleaning pet alligator teeth, you may not qualify.
If you drive a personal vehicle for business use, or if you’re operating a mobile grooming service, you really do need commercial auto insurance. It covers any vehicle that you use primarily for business in the event of an auto accident, collisions with property, and damage from natural disaster, theft and vandalism. If, on the other hand, you use your personal vehicle, consider adding a Hired and Non-Owned policy to cover what your personal vehicle insurance doesn’t.
Workers compensation is required by most states if you have full- or part-time employees. It covers any work-related injuries to them.
Good to Have, Maybe
A bailee rider insurance covers a client’s property while it is in your temporary possession. Dry cleaners, for instance, carry it. If someone’s dog is sick, injured or dies while in your care, you’ll be glad you have it, too.
Inland marine insurance is a consideration if you’re operating a mobile pet grooming business. It covers your professional tools and equipment while they’re away from your stationary place of business. Your regular property insurance and commercial auto insurance do not.
Umbrella insurance beefs up coverage for your general liability, commercial auto and some other primary policies by covering the cost of a claim that exceeds the limits of a primary policy.
Error and Omission (aka E&O or professional liability) will help against claims of malpractice, like messing up Pierre’s poodle cut before the big dog show.
Pet insurance for your own animals is a great option. There are lots of policies available at different price points and it’s great coverage to have in the event of an emergency when you don’t want to worry about weighing the cost of expensive veterinary care.
You can learn more about insurance coverage for pet groomers and shop for competitive quotes here.
 “Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics,” http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp