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Insurance for Pet Sitters: Can You Afford to Skip It?

Headshot of a black and white dog with a paper house on its nose.

You’ve probably had your share of near-misses with disaster while tending your clients pets—from feline escape artists to dogs that eat everything in sight (whether it’s meant to be eaten or not!)) You might have even spent a few lost afternoons scrolling through horror stories from other pet sitters.

So why do we always think it won’t happen to us?

The answer is optimism bias, and it’s hardwired into your brain. People just believe they’re more likely to experience good outcomes than bad ones. Thankfully, the antidote is simple: take a healthy dose of reality now and then to remind yourself that protection is necessary.

From misunderstanding LLC protections to concerns about the cost-to-benefit ratio, there are many reasons why pet pros skip crucial protection. When you’re responsible for an animal’s safety and the financial health of your business, the hidden costs of not getting pet sitter insurance are high.

Ready to short-circuit your optimism bias? At Pet Care Insurance (PCI), we help pet sitters deal with accidents on the job every day. Read these true stories about how things have gone wrong for our policyholders—pet sitters just like you—and how they used their insurance to get back on track.

The Hidden Costs of Skipping Insurance for Pet Sitting

From house sitting to dog walking to minor medical care, pet sitting is a broad job with some big openings for liability. Not only is a pet’s life in your hands, but damage to the owner’s home (by you, the pet, or even a third party) could be your responsibility to pay back.

Here are some of the lesser-known costs of ignoring insurance for pet sitters:

Poodle at the veterinarian standing between a vet and a man paying with a credit card.

High Out-of-Pocket Costs for Claims

The most common insurance claims for pet sitters—property damage, medical bills, and vet visits—create particularly costly claims.

Jeff: $105,450 Property Damage Claim

Jeff accidentally damaged the toilet in a client’s home during a pet sitting gig and left without realizing it was still running. Water overflowed into the rest of the house and caused significant damage. Luckily, Jeff’s general liability coverage kicked in to pay for the repairs.

Not only are the costs of an accident steep for pet sitters, but emergency vet trips can happen at a moment’s notice and require you to pay before you leave. A Forbes study found that 77% of dog owners considered a $2000+ vet bill unaffordable. We bet you might feel the same.

Unfortunately, when emergencies or multiple pets are involved, vet costs can skyrocket.

Kara: $8,500 Animal Injury Claim

While watching multiple cats, Kara was supposed to administer insulin to a diabetic cat—but accidentally gave it to the wrong one. Both cats needed medical attention from a vet. The vet reimbursement and pet protection coverages built into her insurance plan were a huge relief.

Legal Fees

A claim isn’t always the end of the story. Pet sitter legal fees can include paying a lawyer, settlements, court, and document preparation costs, punitive damages and penalties, awards for lost income, awards for pain and suffering, or even reimbursing the market value of a pet.

To give you an idea of how costs stack up, we’ll use a common claim for pet sitters: a dog bite.

Camilla: $98,700 Animal Injury & Bodily Injury Claim

A dog under Camilla’s care attacked a neighbor’s dog and bit off the neighbor’s finger when he tried to break up the fight. The case went to court when the neighbor sued Camilla to recoup the cost of vet bills, medical bills, lost wages due to recovery time, and emotional distress.

Several insurance coverages, including general liability and medical expense limits, kicked in to help.


You see where we’re going with this—costs aren’t always on the surface when courts get involved, and it’s not something you want to face without insurance.

Personal Financial Risk

Many freelancers and solopreneurs structure their businesses as limited liability companies (LLCs), hoping to get legal protection without paying for insurance. LLCs shift liability for accidents onto the company by keeping the owner’s personal assets, like their home, car, and savings, off-limits for court payouts.

The problem for pet sitters is that LLCs don’t work well for animal care. The reason is tort law. (Sorry, tort is much less delicious than it sounds.) In tort cases—civil wrongdoings towards individuals or their property due to intent or negligence—LLC protections don’t apply.

Since courts view pets as property, most cases against pet businesses fall under tort law. That makes an LLC about as useful as a chocolate hammer.

Pet sitter insurance is designed to cover harm to property and people resulting from your business in ways LLCs can’t.

Jacob: $90,000 Bodily Injury Claim

Jacob was walking the client’s dog outside when it bit a passing child. The child’s parents claimed the dog sitter was negligent in controlling the animal and sued him. Since this was a negligence case, it was tried as tort law.

PCI was able to help Jacob cover these injury and court costs with his policy’s medical expense and general liability limits.

Stress and Uncertainty

As a pet sitter, you know animals can be unpredictable. While there are a few big mistakes to avoid as a pet sitter, sometimes accidents are hard to prevent. A surprised dog might bite. A stressed cat might make a mess on the rug. Even a case of the zoomies or a moment of lost concentration can have expensive or heartbreaking consequences.

The good news: animals are unpredictable—insurance isn’t.

Becca: $20,160 Animal Injury Claim

While out for a walk with Becca, the Great Dane under her care spotted a squirrel, pulled the leash out of her hands, and was struck by oncoming traffic.

After extensive emergency vet services failed, the client sued for damages. Her policy’s vet reimbursement, pet protection, and general liability limits came to the rescue.

You probably took this job because you love animals and want them to be safe and happy. Worrying about things that could bankrupt your business steals the joy from pet sitting and contributes to the compassion fatigue and burnout that plague pet care workers.

No one likes to talk about it, but it’s hard to stay excited about your furry charges when you can only see them as bankruptcy waiting to happen. The security that comes with insurance can help you get back to loving every second.

Cropped image of a dog paw in the blue-gloved hands of a veterinarian.

Emergency Medical Costs (Pets and Third Parties)

As you might have noticed from the claims numbers we’ve been throwing out—or just from opening your last medical bill—hospitals get expensive fast, for animals and humans. Insurance for pet sitting is designed to cover up to a certain amount of medical bills for animals and third parties (people besides you and the pet owner).

Cody: $17,245 Bodily Injury Claim

Cody took the three dogs he was walking to a local off-leash dog park. They were happily playing and socializing with the dog of another pet owner when one of the excited pups ran into the back of the other pet owner’s knees, knocking her on her back.

She was treated for a concussion and bruised ribs. Cody’s pet sitter insurance policy took care of the hospital bill.

The cost of emergency vet care might not be a lot better. Although vet bills tend to be slightly lower than human ones, many of the same expensive imaging machines, lab tests, and procedures are involved, so vet bills can range from $250 to $10,000, depending on the injury.

From 2021–2023, one-fourth of all our pet-related claims were for vet reimbursement.

Cleo: $4,592 Vet Reimbursement Claim

Two dogs in Cleo’s care ripped into her closed backpack when she was in another room and ate a bottle of her personal pain medication. She rushed both to the local 24-hour vet, where they pumped the dogs’ stomachs, did blood work, and kept them for two days for observation.

Extended vet stays get expensive, but Cleo’s vet reimbursement and pet protection coverages paid her back.

Loss of Business Income

Many professional agencies and pet parents require petsitters to have insurance before they agree to hire you.

Not only does insurance protect them from risk, but it proves that you’re serious about watching out for clients, their homes, and their fur babies. Without insurance, you might miss out on new clients, limiting your growth and revenue.

Damage to Reputation

Over 75% of pet owners on the popular pet care platforms PetBacker and Rover say reviews strongly influence their decision about which sitter to hire. Imagine the fallout of a situation like this for your business if you didn’t have insurance:

Ashley: $14,429 Animal Injury & Vet Reimbursement Claim

Ashley, a pet sitter and boarder, took all three dogs staying with her to the vet after noticing similar symptoms appear. The vet revealed that the animals were infected with a dangerous airborne virus circulating among small dogs in the area.

All three dogs got treatment during and after their stay with her ended, so several coverages in her policy pooled together to cover vet bills and claims.

Not having insurance would have made this bad situation a lot worse. Reviews could have easily painted her business as unprepared and dangerous if she had hesitated over the possibility of an almost $14,500 emergency vet bill.

Because she had insurance, Ashley could confidently and immediately rush the dogs to a vet and do everything possible to protect her business’s image and the animals in her care.

Contractual Requirements

If you’ve ever worked for an online pet care platform, you’ve probably seen a pet sitting contract with an indemnity clause. To indemnify someone means legally giving up your right to hold them responsible for any losses resulting from a service they provided.

Without insurance, any claims that result from your service can’t be held against the person or company you indemnified—so you’re on your own to pay it. Even limited coverage (like the Rover Guarantee) isn’t the same as insurance. See how Rover insurance compares to the Guarantee, and how it fills the gap.

Marcus: $8,509 Vet Reimbursement Claim

Marcus took a house sitting job through a popular pet care platform. While he was on the job, a chocolate lab under his care chewed her dog bed to bits and ate the stuffing. The dog later had to have surgery, and the owners came to the pet care platform looking for reimbursement.

The pet care platform had an indemnity clause in Marcus’s contract, so he was solely responsible for paying the bill. He took the claim to us, his pet business insurance, and we covered it.

Did you know? Popular pet-sitting job apps like Rover, Wag, Time to Pet, and others don’t insure you against common pet-sitting risks. In fact, all of these apps recommend that pet businesses invest in comprehensive pet sitter insurance for when the unexpected happens.

Dog laying on a bed with a paw on its head.

Most of these claims were simple accidents. Pet sitting is an amazing job full of all the belly scratches and kitty nuzzles you could want, but it comes with built-in risks.

Do you need insurance to pet sit? Legally, no. But if you skip insurance, you could pay expenses like these out of pocket.

Like most people, you probably don’t have thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars just sitting around. One hefty claim could wipe out your business and take an enormous bite out of your personal bank account.

Why Get Insurance for Pet Setting Through PCI?

At PCI, we take care of you, while you take care of pets. Our affordable insurance gives you some of the highest coverage limits for the lowest rates in the business.

Remember when we said our average claim payout for a pet sitter insurance policy is $1,758? Pet sitter insurance with PCI costs as little as $19.08/month or $229/year. If you had just one average-size claim in your first year, your insurance would have paid for itself almost 8 times over.

For less than your monthly bag of dog food, you can rest easy knowing you made a smart investment now to avoid serious expenses later.

What Is Included in Insurance for Pet Sitters?

Comprehensive pet sitter insurance should include the following (and does with PCI!):


  • General liability to handle bodily injury and property damage
  • Products-completed operations coverage for damage caused by products you use during your service or harm resulting from your completed services
  • Personal and advertising injury to cover your business against claims like copyright infringement and libel
  • Damage to premises rented to you to cover the risk of fire in a space you rent
  • Medical expense coverage to help pay for the medical bills of anyone injured due to your business or an animal under your control
  • Pet protection coverage in case of injury to the animals in your care, custody, or control
  • Veterinarian reimbursement to help cover emergency vet trips in case of accidents
  • Lost key liability coverage to pay for rekeying or new locks if you lose the keys to your client’s house


Learn more about Pet Care Insurance coverage details.

Tail Wagging Topics: FAQs on Pet Sitting Risks and Insurance

Insurance for pet sitting covers you against risks specific to your job, which can be a mix of property damage, personal injury, injury to animals under your care, and vet bill claims. Pet sitter insurance is designed to shield vulnerabilities that come with pet care in someone else’s home—risks that a general liability policy for a small business alone might not cover.

Specialize in caring for just one type of pet? See coverage details for

Yes, Rover pet sitters still need insurance! The Rover Guarantee provides some coverage for vet reimbursement and property damage, but it’s not insurance. And it will only respond as a last resort. PCI’s Rover Insurance is the perfect companion for the Rover Guarantee, offering you protection for any gaps in coverage.

Common risks for pet sitters that end in insurance claims include property damage to clients’ homes, bodily injury claims like dog bites, and veterinarian bills due to pet injuries. As a pet sitter, you’re responsible for the safety of the animals under your control and, to an extent, their behavior around other people and their property.

Insurance for pet sitting typically costs from $250 to over $1000 annually. PCI’s pet sitter insurance costs as little as $19.08/month or $229/year. Our policy is tailored to pet sitting risks and offers the option to customize even further with cyber liability, broadened property damage protection, and coverage for your gear and equipment.

Annual Pet Sitter Insurance Policy

This policy is for professionals who work in the pet care industry.

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About the Author

Comparing Employee Dishonesty Coverage & Bonding

PCI’s employee dishonesty coverage is similar to a bond, but there may be some key differences to consider.

Employee dishonesty coverage:

  • Can be purchased in the same transaction
  • Doesn’t run credit checks
  • Provides $10,000 per occurrence and $25,000 aggregate coverage

Bonds may differ from our dishonesty coverage by:

  • Checking your credit during the application process
  • Having a “Conviction Claus;” Often bonds won’t pay on claims unless there is a conviction
  • Many require you to reimbursement the bonding company after a claim is paid