Newcomers to the transportation business often assume that their existing auto insurance covers all animals in their care. More often than not, these assumptions prove to be false.
Customers will expect you to provide insurance against any harm that might come to their pets. Failing to do so might seriously hamper your efforts to build a reputation as a dependable, professional pet carrier.
With that in mind, we’d like to present several different types of insurance you should consider if transporting pets. We don’t officially endorse any single provider, but each option described below lists a single insurance company as an example. Our goal is to inform and empower transporters, not to make any business decisions on your behalf.
Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance
A common type of insurance, general liability policies protect against lawsuits for damages. Whenever your business might be held liable, a CGL policy has you covered. In addition to injury or property damage caused to your customer, policies can also cover libel, slander, contractual liability, loss of income due to suspension of operation, and much more.
If considering CGL insurance, keep in mind that many of the “umbrella policies” on offer are extremely broad. To avoid paying more than you need, make sure that the insurance covers those cases that apply to your business and not too much else. For example, you likely wouldn’t need to pay extra to cover for E&O (errors and omissions) as a transporter. So talk to an agent in your area about customizing a plan suitable to your business.
A typical policy should cover the liability of your business as a whole, including all employees, contractors, and volunteers. It might not, however, cover injuries to you or other people working for you. (You would need to add workers compensation insurance to cover that as well.)
Bailee Customer Insurance
Providing narrower coverage than CGL insurance, bailee policies cover the legal liability of damage to another’s property while it’s in your custody. In the eyes of the law, pets are property, transporters are bailors, and customers are bailees - hence the name.
For an independent transporter, bailee insurance is usually the most efficient way of covering every eventuality. It covers theft, veterinary bills, even the reward money offered when an animal gets lost. Don’t skip the fine print, though! Bailee providers go to great lengths to define exclusions - conditions in which their coverage does not apply. For instance, it wouldn’t cover injury or death caused by sickness, disease, or natural causes.
Here’s a list of situations for which a typical animal bailee policy would not provide coverage:
- Dishonest acts by you, your employees, or authorized representatives.
- Neglect to use all reasonable means to save and preserve the animals.
- Theft of animals left in vehicles overnight.
- Sickness, disease, or natural causes.
- Testing, experimentation, or research of any kind.
Example: Pet Care Affiliates
Price: rates start at $129
Coverage: up to $15,000 per occurrence, or $30,000 aggregate
Auto Insurance Expansions
As a budget option, you might want to consider adding a pet to your existing car insurance policy. Not every insurance provider offers this, of course, but those that do are aware of their clients’ financial constraints. You might be able to get at least partial coverage for the animals under your care with a modest increase to your premiums.
Obviously, this type of insurance is anything but comprehensive. But if it’s all you can afford at the moment, you should definitely take it under consideration. When the pets you’re transporting are in need of urgent veterinary assistance, you’ll be glad to have part of that expense covered.
Example: Erie Insurance
Coverage: up to two dogs/cats, $500 for veterinary care or $1,000 if they’re killed in an accident
Pet Care Liability Insurance
Finally, there are insurance policies out there in the market targeted at various professionals in the pet services industry. This definition is obviously very broad, ranging from dog trainers and groomers to pet-sitters and poop-scoopers.
Many transporters find this type of broad coverage useful as well. After all, you never know when an animal in your care might require an urgent visit to the vet. Still, liability for damages and injuries is the main attraction of these affordable policies. If considering some form of pet care liability insurance, we recommend that you carefully consider which types of coverage your business model requires.
Example: Veracity Insurance Solutions
Price: rates start at $139 per year
Coverage: variable, up to $2,000,000 aggregate
Deductible: none or $250 per vet bill reimbursement
Ultimately, peace of mind is the most important benefit that insurance can provide. Having a strong policy in place instills confidence in your customers and drives your business forward.
The options we’ve outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg. We strongly recommend that you do your own research and decide which type of coverage suits your needs best.
What to read next
For more general-purpose advice, see the Transporters section of our Help Center.