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Common Claims

Episode 10: Top 15 Most Common Pet Sitting Insurance Claims

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, we are joined by David Pearsall, Vice President at Business Insurers of the Carolinas, which specializes in commercial insurance, including businesses providing pet services.  David joins Bella for the first of what will be many episodes dealing with insurance for those in the pet sitting industry. This episode focuses on the the 15 most common pet sitting insurance claims.

Bella asks the age old question of how to know when you should or should not put in a pet sitting insurance claim?


David discusses the factors insurance companies look at when deciding on writing or renewing your policy and how you can use those factors to make that call.  Though, he emphasizes that you should also keep in mind that what may appear to be a small claim may eventually turn out to be a big one.

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David kicks off the Top 15 by discussing the Top 5 most frequent pet sitting insurance claims (see below).  As part of it, he discusses the differences between Animal Care, Custody, and Control policies.

David also mentions that the contents of the client’s home are usually excluded from most general liability policies, but some policies, like the one offered by the association, may have endorsements covering that.

If you, your employee, or one of the animals in your care is attacked by a third-party animal, try to get the information about that animal’s owner.  More than likely, they will be liable for the incident. 

There sure are a lot of pet sitting insurance claims!

Then, David covers the

Top 5 most frequent third-party claims (also below).

He mentions how often people are injured when two dogs are fighting.  He stresses that you should NEVER try to get between two fighting dogs. It will more than likely end badly. He suggests using methods such as loud noises or water hoses to break it up.

Bites to children is big on the list as well. David recommends that you emphasize to your employees or independent contractors that it is their responsibility to keep other people, especially children, away from the dogs in their care as even the most well-tempered dog may bite if it is spooked or the child provokes it.

Another big claim on the list is property damage to clients’ homes.  David recommends sitters be cognizant of things like water faucets and running toilets.  He also suggests that sitters really know their cleaning supplies as there have been many claims related to sitters using a cleaner on a floor that ultimately ruins the finish.

David then talks about the Top 5 Workman’s Comp pet sitting insurance claims (also below).

He says the key thing is to get your employee taken care of and back to work as quickly as possible.   David says that if you or your employee has an accident or is injured, call the workman’s comp insurer as soon as possible!  The sooner they are involved the better your overall outcome is likely to be. He also suggests that you should have a relationship with a clinic where you send employees with non-life threatening emergencies as they are much less expensive and patients are often seen much more quickly there than in a hospital  emergency room.

Here the Top 5 lists:

Top 5 Pet Related Claims

  1. Ingesting  something foreign. (Example: medicine, toys)
  2. Dog bitten by another dog owned by third party
  3. Dog bitten by another dog in the sitter’s care
  4. Scratches and injuries (to animal) due to running into or stepping on things.
  5. Pet damages to the contents of homes.

Top 5 Third-Party Claims

  1. Dog in a sitter’s care attacks or bites another dog
  2. Dog bites a person (other than you or your employee)
  3. Water damage. (Example: Sitter leaving the water on in a client’s home)
  4. Dog runs into or undercuts a person (other than you or your employee)
  5. Damages to the client’s home. (Example: Sitter causes a fire in a client’s home)

Top 5 Workman’s Comp Claims

  1. Dog or cat bite to hands or arms
  2. Slips, trips, and falls
  3. Slips and falls on stairs
  4. Dog bites to other body parts
  5. Dogs at play..odd injuries. (Example:  Dog jumps up and knocks out a sitter’s tooth)

Here is David’s contact information:
David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA
Business Insurers of the Carolinas
PO Box 2536, Chapel Hill, NC 27515
1-800-962-4611 x214
dp@Business-Insurers.com

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7 Pet Sitting Businesses Who Turned In Workman’s Compensation Claims

Claim form for an injury at work

Claim form for an injury at work

So many times, it is workman’s compensation that I hear people sigh about when they say that “employees cost so much”  Which in reality, is a big fat lie, but that isn’t the direction I am going today.

Workman’s compensation is an insurance that businesses with employees pay into. The individual rate varies from state to state and it is based off your total payroll. You can read about all the ins and outs in a previous article I wrote about workmans compensation. I actually went as far as interviewed an actual insurance agent.

You might read a common magazine for the pet sitting industry that talks basic liability about insurance claims.  You know, a sitter breaks a glass vase, leaves the water running, damages a wooden table, etc. These are all claims for when the business was negligent.

What you don’t see much of is workman’s compensation claims. I feel like if this was promoted more, more businesses would realize how costly things can get and how quickly a business that isn’t properly protected could be put out of business.

“Not having workman’s compensation and having and accident could seriously put a business OUT of business. ” – Bella

I don’t want you to take my word for it. I want you to read what actual claims pet siting business owners across the country have had to put it. You could be the most careful pet sitter in the world. You could train your staff the best in the country. But there is ALWAYS an X factor. It is the ANIMALS that we care for. Cats can be vicious. Ever come across an attack kitty? I have. Dogs, when they get old, can have moments where they snap.  It happens my friends!

I want you to read the below ACTUAL incidents and I want you to ask yourself, if you have ICs, how in the HECK can you recover from something like this? What would happen? Your contract where you demote all liability probably won’t stand up in court. If it did, it will cost you money to defend yourself. How will your name not be tarnished? All of a sudden your worker will be trying to go after the homeowner because they need someone to pay their bills and then the homeowner is going to look towards YOU the company they hired. Truth be told the WC will eventually talk to the homeowners insurance and determine percentages of liability to split the cost of the overall claim. Claims aren’t cheap. Read below:

This one happened during a meet and greet. A dog bite on the face!

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Or this incident that proves you can be vigilant, but can’t always control the circumstances.

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This one, we were all surprised that this wasn’t an auto claim, but it was on the job and he was hurt (and covered under the policy as an employee) Could you imagine paying $50,000? That would put many of us out of business. We don’t just have that kind of money laying around for a rainy day!

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This shows how long term some injuries can be. Of course, in most cases, your worker is injured in some way, but it also usually means that the company is one person “down.” With worksmans compensation, they still pay a portion of what the sitter would have been paid.  The policy pays. You don’t. Would your business survive if someone was taken out of the game today?

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First, Marcia is far from a dumb owner. She is one of the most exciting people to work with. Funny too! 🙂 This is an important story that I wanted to include because often we, as owners, think we are invincible. The general public discredits cats and small dogs for “not being able to hurt us. Which we all know is false. I love how Marcia was changed from her experience and automatically started to include behavior training in her staff training.  This is a business owner who learns from her mistakes! I love how she is strict with who she accepts as clients. I think we all should be!

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This is a great example on how it is important to report everything. You never, ever, know what something that “feels fine” will turn into.

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This one could have been REALLY bad. When it happened, I remember Julie calling me up for advice. It was beyond stressful and scary.

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What Do You Do?

All this being said, do you have a protocol established if there was every an accident? Does your staff know what to do? Where to go? how to report it? For you: Do you know who you call? What your policy or plan covers? Do you know if you need to report it to the city? When to report it to the insurance? Will there be a drug test?

Please, if you don’t already, establish a protocal for if and when this ever happens in your company. You don’t want to be figuring out the HOW in the middle of the trauma.

 

How Is The Workman’s Compensation Premium Determined?

workman's compensation

I called up my business insurance broker and asked: What determine your Workman’s Compensation (WC) rate? Is it only your state rate or if you have injuries on the job does it go up?

  1. The Workers Compensation rates differ from State to State . If you think of workers compensation as a major medical policy the better the benefits the higher the premium . So States determine the coverage’s under their State workers compensation benefits act . The companies calculate the rates on the coverage’s afforded under each State’s workers’ compensation benefits based on the classification of your particular business/occupation /duties .
  2. In addition all the companies have their own rates so this is where you get one premium quotation better than another companies .
  3. How they classify you business ( under what code ) makes a difference .  We use the 8831 kennel code for pet sitters and other companies use a different code . Sometimes the rates differ by $ 5.00 or more . ( kennel code being the lowest of the two ) .
  4. Injuries /claims.  Any premium below $ 5000.00 will have a merit mod attached . The merit mods are as follows :
  5. Lost time claim    1.00 merit mod
  6. No loss time claims   .95 merit mod
  7. Two or more loss time claims   1.05 merit mod

You take the merit mob times the base rate to determine the actual rate per $ 100.00 of payroll.

If your premium is over $ 5000.00 then you get into the experience rating and that is done through a rating service that most companies use . This would be too complicated to explain here in an email .  But over $ 5,000.00 in premium and a bad loss experience your mod could go to a 1.50 or 2.00 and basically you would be paying 1.5 to 2X the standard rate . Most pet sitter’s premiums are under the $ 5000.00 annual premium .

 

Dennis A. Stowers, CIC
Mourer-Foster, Inc
615 N Capitol Ave
Lansing, MI  48933
Direct (517)346-5230
Fax 1-517-371-7121
Toll Free 1-800-686-2663
email: dstowers@mourerfoster.com