*EDIT - since this post was written as of February 1st 2014, we now offer $10m Public Liability insurance to all Hosts for stays booked via PetHomeStay!*
A question we often get asked is what happens in the event of an emergency, and what kind of insurances are needed or covered by either the Pet Owner, the Host, or PetHomeStay itself.
At this time, PetHomeStay does not provide insurance or have a policy covering emergency pet medical bills to anyone using our website, although we are discussing how this might work with several insurance partners.
As PetHomeStay is a new type of service, this is a little bit complicated, and an insurance policy does not actually exist for exactly what we do, but we are determined to source something for our members very soon. (Until this happens, the contract is purely between the Pet Owner and the Host, as per our Terms and Conditions.)
We would recommend that, if they care for their pet, every pet owner should have pet insurance that covers them no matter who is looking after their pet. It costs from around $5.50 per fortnight for most pets. Vet bills for things like a tennis ball getting stuck in a throat can cost almost $2000 dollars!
So, what happens between the Pet Owner and the Host?
A lot depends on how often the pet is looked after by someone else (especially dogs), what the specific coverage of your or their existing pet, personal or house insurance is, and what exactly is the nature of the incident.
The reason for this is that a persons existing pet insurance will often cover medical bills in the event of them asking someone else to look after the pet, as long as you (the pet owner) remain the regular owner and your home remains the regular place of residence. Depending on each specific policy, an insurer may also require the Pet Owner to register the care giver as an authorised person, so that if something does happen, the care giver can phone the insurer up and liaise with them. If you do have existing pet insurance, it is generally a good idea to ring your provider up and notify them that your pet is being looked after by someone and add them to your policy. It costs nothing and takes two minutes!
The nature of the incident is important too – if the pet is injured in isolation and there isn’t anyone else involved (say, the pet got hit by a car, and caused no damage to the car) then it is purely whether either the owner or the Host has medical coverage. If the pet is in someone’s care, and attacks someone else (even if it was provoked) then 3rd party or public liability comes into play. Sometimes this is covered under a persons Home Insurance, sometimes not. And if they are renting, it generally is not (and their landlord may not authorise them to care for pets in the location either.) So if you are a Host, check with your Home Insurance provider and ask them if you are covered if a pet causes a 3rd party or public liability accident at your house.
Finally, this is intended as a guideline, and every situation is different, so please check with your provider, check with your potential PetHomeStay (as per our House Rules) and be aware of your individual circumstances before you allow your pet to stay with someone. If you are in doubt, do the safe thing and get cover for your pet!