Grooming Business Insurance

by Grooming Business in a Box®

Business insurance a major topic for pet groomers. We’ve got helpful information for you. Operating a pet grooming business without proper and adequate is an uncalled for risk. You are caring for beloved animals, and you are also responsible for persons entering your commercial property including pet owners, vendors, employees and occasional drop-in visitors.

Some grooming business owners go to an “insurance agent” and are told they do not offer commercial business insurance for groomers. What do they do? First of all, an agent is not the complete source for grooming business insurance. An “insurance broker” is more likely going to be able to provide the coverage you desire.

Excerpt by Award-Winning Author, Madeline Bright Ogle, PhD

“An insurance broker is different from an insurance agent. An agent works for one company while a broker can select from a wide range of insurance companies. This allows you to select fullest coverage for the lowest cost. Insurance companies are just beginning to understand the needs of pet grooming salons. I t is unlikely that an insurance agent can provide you with adequate coverage from one company. Get to know a competent broker in your area. Acquaint him with your business so he can design a policy unique to your needs. For years, some insurance companies have been reluctant to provide coverage for pet grooming salons. The reason is that salons did not have professionals standards, adequate staff training, or good hygiene. Following The Madson Management System will correct these deficiencies.”

Copyright 1989, 1997 Madeline Bright Ogle All Rights Reserved

So, now you are going to search for an insurance broker. They may have never insured a pet care business before. Describe your business clearly to them so that they too can help to derive your insurance needs. You must ensure all of your business property, including fire and theft. You must insure your liability for people on your business property. Now, what becomes more difficult is that you must insure the valuable inventory of pets that you care for each day. This is the tricky part, finding a company that provides adequate coverage for the loss of a pet. Potentially, a pet could be worth thousands of dollars in a lawsuit. In fact, it could be worth more including damages when a pet is harmed, or death results, as a result of negligence involving the pet care your business provides. Yes, like doctors, attorneys and other professionals, the pet grooming business owner faces “malpractice” and finding “malpractice insurance” for a pet grooming business is difficult without some good leads, and a competent insurance broker.

Here’s some assistance. Based on past experience the following companies insure pet grooming businesses, and they typically work with insurance brokers. However, we do not guarantee that their coverage includes all of the coverage you require, especially malpractice insurance. Let your insurance broker know that these businesses have at least in the past provided coverage.

  • Travelers
  • ITT Hartford

Warning: Read your policy carefully. It may not be fun, but you can rest easier when you know have the coverage you need. Are you certain you have “malpractice coverage.” Malpractice insurance is almost never included in a standard policy.

It may take more than one policy and insurance company to adequately cover your business. Be sure you insurance adequately represents your chosen company form. Your coverage must protect those who are responsible for the liability of the business, and as we have seen above, liability varies by company form. Your insurance broker will assist you.

Insurance coverage is not always a legal requirement, but it is vital to own adequate insurance. Once you hire employees, you will need worker’s compensation insurance. Some states may require bonds too. Again, ask your insurance professional for assistance.

As a pet grooming business owner you face pet care liability issues. You are liable for the services your provide. If you injure a pet, you are liable for a potential lawsuit. For that reason alone, an examination of every pet’s condition before you accept it for grooming should be the standard order of the day. Question the pet owner to see if the pet suffers any physical ailment or is under a veterinarian’s care. If the pet is under veterinary care, you must know if the condition could be worsened by grooming. If you have any doubt, require a written release from the veterinarian providing the care. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for this clearance. You are expressing sincere concern for the pet, and that is expected of the professional pet groomer. You never need business so badly that you accept risks either.

Pre-existing health conditions, matted coats, allergies, aged pets, and disabled pets all pose potential liability risks. In fact, skin ailments aggravated by grooming or grooming products are not uncommon. You must limit how much stress you will put a pet through to de-matt its coat, and draw the line when necessary and advise the pet owner that it is in the pet’s interest to remove the coat instead of requiring it to endure the discomfort and aggravation of de-matting.

We highly-recommend that you use a “Release and Hold Harmless Agreement” to protect your interests when grooming a pet that poses some risk. Of course, you may decide to refuse services entirely, and a notice to that effect should be clearly posted in your business. However, where it is reasonable in your judgment to groom a pet, and even if you have a release from a veterinarian, it is a good idea to ask the pet owner to sign the Release and Hold Harmless Agreement.

We recommend two forms that you use as a model. Notice that we say “as a model.” Take one or both of these models to your company attorney for review. They can then modify it as needed for use in your operation. We do not recommend using them as-is without your attorney’s review.

There is another form of Release and Hold Harmless Agreement in the book From Problems to Profits in Pet Grooming. In addition, there are several other sample legal forms in From Problems to Profits.

Remember, not all ailments are evident. A “trick knee” may never show itself until there is a problem with it. Interview your new customers and record the results including health conditions on your records for each client and their pet(s). As a general rule of thumb, if you consider a pet to require your “special care” you should have a signed release from its owner. If you know the pet is under veterinary care, there is no room for question, you should have a signed release form on file. Save all signed release forms for future reference too.

Another warning. Some pet groomers forget to ask regular clients, “Has there been any health conditions with your pet since your last visit?” The smart business owner asking this question minimizes their exposure to legal recourse should a problem occur with the pet while under their care. In 1998 there were legal cases where the Judge in each case expected that a pet care business owner would inquire about the CURRENT health condition of each pet before providing services. TAKE HEED! This is one of the most commonly overlooked procedures in all of the grooming industry. You are taking money for providing services, and therefore, in consumer law you are expected to be the knowledgeable professional and therefore, know it is important to verify that since the last grooming there has been no changes in the pet’s health that might be affected by grooming. You can’t use the excuse that the pet owner should have informed you, or you forgot. These excuses have been demonstrated in Court to nil affect for the benefit of the business who is expected to know better since he or she is charging fees.   ♦