Family and friends not protected from liability under existing pet insurance coverage



Australians looking to cash in on the boom in casual dog minding are putting themselves at risk of major public liability claims and veterinary treatments.

With more than 80 percent of Australian pets uninsured, casual sitters are exposed to significant financial risk if a pet in their care suddenly falls ill or sustains an injury.

CEO and founder of pethomestay.com, Tom LeGrice, says the complex web of insurance options often deters casual sitters from ensuring they have appropriate cover.

“The insurance options for pets in Australia are especially complicated for anyone who’s only looking after an animal on a temporary basis,” said Mr LeGrice.

“Australians have incredibly low levels of pet insurance at the best of times, but this is a real problem for casual pet sitters looking to take in animals for a night or two at a time.

“Many pet owners love using in-home pet sitting services because of the high quality of care provided around the clock, compared to a traditional boarding or kennel facility. However, animals can get sick or injure themselves in all sorts of ways, especially when they’re in a new environment.

“A trip to the emergency vet can very quickly run up significant costs, and with only one pet in five covered by an insurance policy it’s a big risk for the sitter.”

Australians who are looking after animals need to consider two different types of insurance cover in order to protect themselves in the event of an incident.

Public liability insurance covers the possibility of a pet in your care escaping from your secured yard or home and causing damage to people or property, for example causing a car accident in your street or attacking passers-by. Anyone earning an income from pet sitting is required by law to have public liability insurance.

Accident and illness insurance covers the animal if it gets sick or injured and requires medical treatment.

“While established pet sitting businesses tend to have sufficient public liability cover, it’s the casual sitters, including family and friends of the pet owner, who are at most risk if a pet escapes from care and causes a problem in the community.

“Any pet owner using a pet sitting service really needs the peace of mind that their sitter is insured for both damage caused by the pet, or accidents involving the pet,” said Mr LeGrice.

Pet sitters who use pethomestay.com to facilitate bookings are charged a small transaction fee which includes a premium for both accident insurance and public liability. In the lead-up to the peak Christmas booking season, the company is providing its insurance cover free of charge to make sure all sitters are adequately protected for the holidays.