About General Liability Insurance
All businesses, regardless of industry, face risks that should be covered by insurance. The most common and comprehensive type of policy business owners invest in is general liability insurance (or CGL).
Some of the risks CGL insurance covers are:
- Bodily injury
- Property damage
- Medical payments
- Legal defense and judgment
- Personal and advertising injury
While businesses aren't legally required to carry general liability insurance, operating without it is extremely risky. If your business is sued, you could end up facing fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more). Having a sufficient CGL policy in place to help compensate for these damages is the only way to prevent this type of event from devastating your business.
Learn more about the risks covered by general liability insurance.
COMMON SITUATIONS THAT GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE WOULD COVER FOR A DOG WALKER
Example 1: During a walk, a dog unexpectedly jerks the leash out of your hand. It runs down the street and bites a pedestrian, resulting in a severe infection. General liability insurance will likely cover the cost of treating the injury.
Example 2: Another local dog walker files a lawsuit against you claiming that your company’s name is too close to theirs. General liability insurance will likely cover the cost of the legal advice you need to either settle or argue the claim.
Example 3: While you’re out on a walk, a dog veers off into a nearby garden. It tramples the expensive, exotic plants the neighbor ordered from overseas. General liability insurance will likely help you replace the bulbs and any other resulting property damage that may have occurred.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of perils a general liability insurance policy will cover, and some conditions may result in a particular peril not being covered. It's always best to talk to your agent in-depth about the specifics of your policy to avoid blind spots in coverage.
Cost of General Liability Insurance
On average, dog walkers in America spend between $300 - $700 per year for $1 million in general liability coverage.
Check out the chart below for a snapshot of average CGL expenditure across a variety of industries:
Several factors will determine the price of your policy. These include your:
- Number of employees
- Per-occurrence limit
- General aggregate limit
You may be able to acquire general liability insurance at a discounted rate by purchasing it as part of a business owner's policy (BOP) rather than as a standalone policy. A BOP is a more comprehensive solution that includes multiple forms of coverage, such as business interruption and property insurance.
Other Types of Coverage dog walkers Need
While general liability is the most important type of insurance to have, there are several other forms of coverage you should be aware of. Below are some other types of insurance all dog walkers should obtain:
Commercial Auto Insurance
If you’re using a vehicle to get to clients or to transport their dogs, you may need commercial auto insurance to cover any damage that may ensue from an at-fault accident. A personal policy may not cover the cost of dog injuries or property damage if the insurer becomes aware that the vehicle was used for business activities at the time of the crash.
Types of Coverage Some dog walkers May Need
In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your dog walker may require depending on certain aspects of your operations. Some of these might not apply to you, so be sure to ask your agent which policies are right for your business.
Many dog walkers work out of their homes without realizing that accidents or damages that occur in their business space may not be covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. So, if there’s a flood in your home office that ruins your work and destroys the nearby wiring system, you’ll need home-based insurance to cover the damages.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
Dog walking is an inherently risky business, one that can potentially result in physical injury and extensive property damage. And while most dog walks go through without a hitch, it only takes one broken bone to make for an extremely expensive mistake. Umbrella insurance is a way to continue receiving financial compensation for a claim even after the limits of a general liability policy hit their limits.
Additional Steps to Protect Your Business
Although it's easy (and essential) to invest in business insurance, it should not be your frontline defense. Yes, insurance will compensate for your business' financial losses after an incident occurs, but it's much better to avoid losses altogether.
With this in mind, here are three things you can do to better protect your business:
- Use legally robust contracts and other business documents. (We offer free templates for some of the most common legal forms.)
- Set up a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your personal assets. (Refer to our guide for step-by-step instructions on how to form an LLC in your state.)
- Streamline your business' internal processes. This will remove unnecessary variables from common tasks and create a safe, consistent environment for conducting business.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is included in a business owner’s policy?
A typical business owner's policy includes general liability, business interruption, and property insurance. However, BOPs are often customizable, so your agent may recommend adding professional liability, commercial auto, or other types of coverage to your package depending on your company's needs.
What is the difference between business insurance and general liability insurance?
"Business insurance" is a generic term used to describe many different types of coverage a business may need. General liability insurance, on the other hand, is a specific type of coverage that business owners need to protect their assets.
Do I need insurance before I start a business?
You should invest in coverage for your business before your first interaction with a customer. Although the cost of insurance may seem high for a brand new business, it's best to be proactive when it comes to protecting your assets. After all, you can't buy insurance to cover a loss that has already occurred.
Will insurance protect my business from everything?
Not necessarily. Certain exceptions may be written directly into your policy, and some perils may be entirely uninsurable. Be sure to discuss the scope of your policy in-depth with your agent to avoid being blindsided by holes in your coverage.