Be Sure and Insure
The right insurance can offer protection from any number of unforeseen disasters that can strike a business, decimating the operation and its bottom line.

If you have insurance for your business (and I truly hope you do), sometimes it may seem as though you are paying an insurance firm an awful lot of money each year for nothing. If that thought has ever occurred to you, then you are fortunate enough to not have been forced to utilize the protection afforded by insurance–yet.

Insurance is nothing more than protection from what can befall a business. If there’s risk involved in something, it’s only common sense to take precautions. Insurance is a fairly inexpensive way of buying peace of mind.  There are plenty of things to worry about in business that you can’t control–the economy, equipment failure, etc.–but there’s no need to lose sleep worrying over what could happen if you have the right insurance.

Cover Your Bases
What do you need to insure against? Anything that you are at risk for. General insurance needs differ within the pet industry depending upon the business. It’s important to find an insurance agent that you trust, and to heed their suggestions, but your input is important too. Spend some time thinking of all the things that can possibly go wrong during your work day and jot them down. Think of all the far-fetched reasons that clients or passersby might sue you, and add those to the list. Then ask your agent if each of these scenarios would be covered by insurance. Your agent should also ask questions and help you tailor an insurance program that suits your specific needs and budget.

Trainers probably need liability insurance to cover them in case of them being bitten by a client or prospective client’s dog, but may also want coverage against a dog being harmed during training. If a dog runs out of the building or the area you are using for class and is injured by a car or another dog, you could be liable. Or what if a dog you trained bites someone and the owner wants to sue you because you should have seen it coming? Liability insurance can cover these types of scenarios.

Retail stores have different vulnerabilities. For example, a store can get sued by a client who bought and used a shampoo that got into their pet’s eye, resulting in injury. With the right liability insurance, that retailer will be covered, and the insurance company will handle the lawsuit. If a product is indeed defective in some way and causes harm to an animal, the store is protected. Yes, the manufacturer should be responsible for defective items, but in our litigation-happy society everyone involved will probably be named in a legal action.

Grooming salons could be at risk for any number of accidents, given that wiggly animals and sharp-cutting objects are involved. Mobile groomers need to have vehicle insurance, in addition to everything a storefront carries.

As unlikely as it may seem, fire is also a possibility that can’t be ignored. Fire insurance is usually a separate policy from liability. Could you afford to replace all your retail stock or all of your grooming equipment? Theft is another hazard to guard against. Sure, you can put in a great security system, but if the worst does happen, a policy that reimburses you for that loss may be the only way to stay in business.

Some insurance is required by law, such as worker’s compensation insurance for those who may sustain job-related injuries. This, too, is protection, but for employees. Consider what you can do to help protect your employees, as they are the backbone of any business.

Health insurance is a tough one for groomers. Not many have it. Not many can afford it. But who can afford to do without it? Some businesses make it a priority to ensure their employees have access to a health plan and are rewarded with less absenteeism due to illnesses–and grateful, loyal employees. 

Most policies are in place to help businesses survive a catastrophic loss. All businesses catering to the public should have insurance sufficient to prevent an event from putting them out of business.

Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.