Allowing Pets in the Office: A Risk Prospective
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
So you want to let pets in the company office? Yes, it may promote good company culture, make you look cool in front of your customers, and shut up Karen from accounting from constantly talking about her good boy Spot, but overall, it probably isn’t a good idea. Enter the insurance nerd.
If an employee brought in his/her pet to the office, would we be covered in our current policy if the animal either bit someone, or damaged equipment/furniture? If so, is there a deductible, and would this be a situation where we would only claim it if the damages exceeded the deductible amount?
If one of your employee’s pets bit a customer, the customer would most likely sue
for damages. Normal business activities of Company X are providing X services. An insurance company could deny a claim, pushing the rationale that providing (insert your company name’s) services has nothing to do with animals/pets. If coverage was given for a customer it would fall into the Commercial General Liability Medical Expense Limit. This limit is usually $5,000 or $10,000 Per Person, and often has no deductible. Depending on the severity of the bite, this limit may not be enough coverage. Say the dog bit through a major atery or broke a bone, it may cost more than $10,000 at the hospital to put the inured customer back together. The medical Expense limit is designed as a no-fault coverage to avoid having to go to court with a suit.
If a pet damages property, this would be excluded.
A typical deductible on a commercial package or Business Owner’s package can be anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for property damage, but damage caused by animals is likely not included so the deductible is irrelevant.
Here is some sample wording:
We will not pay for loss of or damage to the following types of property unless caused by
any of the "specified causes of loss" or building glass breakage form(s)).
(1) Live animals, birds or fish, and then only under these Additional Coverages are in addition
if they are killed or their destruction is to the applicable Limits of Insurance.
Specified causes of loss" means the following:
Fire; lightning; explosion; windstorm or hail;
and smoke; aircraft or vehicles; riot or civil commotion;
vandalism; leakage from fire extinguishing
equipment; sinkhole collapse; volcanic action;
If the Pet Bites an Employee
Worker’s Compensation doesn’t mention animals. Injury to an employee via a pet bite isn’t included or excluded. Worker’s Compensation is also a no-fault coverage. If an employee is hurt (regardless of if it was a slip and fall or a work place pet attack), coverage is given to cover the employee’s injuries. Note all claims are adjusted based on the specific facts of the situation and the coverages in place at the time.
However, pet owner’s liability insurance could be involved in any situation.
Pet Owner’s Liability is typically included in the personal liability section of a Home Owners or Rental policy. Some Homeowner’s exclude aggressive dog breeds.
– Note I do not work in personal lines so I cannot really comment on this in good faith.
Regardless of where you decide to go with your new company pet policy, It would be wise to exclude aggressive dog breeds and keep a max pet weight below 80 lbs. I personally worked in the property management space for a few years, and this is standard practice for many residential tenant leases.
Another layer of protection could be to force employees to sign a waiver assuming liability of their pet’s actions in the event of property damage or bodily injury. These do not always hold up in court but is better than nothing. In addition, make sure all pets are up to date on vaccinations and fixed. These measures could prevent more severe issues.