Understanding Therapy Dog Insurance

Therapy Dog Insurance

Understanding Therapy Dog Insurance

As the demand for therapy dog services continues to grow, ensuring your therapy dog is properly insured is an important part of being a responsible therapy dog handler. This guide will help you understand the different types of therapy dog insurance, compare key factors like coverage and costs, and choose the best policy to protect you and your furry friend while volunteering in animal-assisted interventions.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Before getting into insurance details, let’s first define what a therapy dog is. A therapy dog is a dog that is trained and tested to provide affection, comfort and companionship to people in various settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, disaster areas and other places where people may be experiencing stress.

Therapy dogs differ from service dogs or emotional support animals in that they are not trained to perform specific tasks to assist a person with disabilities. Instead, therapy dogs are visiting pets that bring joy, calm and social support to people through animal-assisted therapy sessions. To become a certified therapy dog, the dog must complete obedience and temperament training and pass the Good Canine Citizen test through organizations like Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Therapeutic Paw of Pennsylvania.

Why Therapy Dog Insurance is Important

Having the proper insurance in place is crucial for protecting both you and your therapy dog. As therapy dogs and their handlers visit public places to interact with people, there is always a risk that an accident could occur or someone could make a claim against the handler or therapy dog organization. Some key reasons why therapy dog insurance is so important include:

  • Liability protection: Therapy dog work involves interacting with many people, some of whom may have disabilities or medical conditions. There is always a small risk that a dog could inadvertently hurt or scratch someone during a visit. Therapy dog insurance provides liability coverage to pay for medical expenses or claims in case of an incident.
  • Property damage coverage: Sometimes therapy dogs can accidentally knock things over or spill things in their enthusiasm. Therapy dog insurance covers repair or replacement costs if your dog causes any property damage during visits.
  • Medical expenses: Just like any dog, therapy dogs are still at risk of injury. Insurance helps pay veterinary bills if your therapy dog is ever hurt, especially important since therapy dogs are actively working and visiting new environments.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing you and your dog are protected takes a load off your mind so you can fully enjoy volunteering. Reputable therapy dog organizations usually require members to carry insurance as well.

Understanding the purpose and benefits of proper therapy dog insurance up front will help you choose the right policy for your needs and those of your furry co-worker. Let’s explore the different types of policies available.

Types of Therapy Dog Insurance

When shopping for therapy dog insurance, you will primarily come across two main types – basic liability coverage or multi-peril coverage. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Basic Liability Insurance

  • Covers claims if your therapy dog causes property damage or injuries to a third party during volunteer visits
  • Typical limits are $500,000 or $1,000,000 in liability coverage
  • Only provides liability protection, no other coverage types
  • More affordable option usually $150-300 per year

Multi-Peril Therapy Dog Insurance

  • Provides broader coverage beyond just liability
  • Includes medical coverage for your therapy dog’s injuries up to a certain amount (usually $5,000+)
  • Some policies offer coverage for boarding expenses if your dog needs cared for while you’re hospitalized
  • May include other optional coverages like lost equipment, grooming expenses etc.
  • More comprehensive coverage but higher premiums usually $300-500 per year

Within these two major categories, coverage details and pricing can vary depending on the insurance provider. It’s wise to get quotes from multiple sources to compare plans and costs. Understanding the coverage differences upfront helps you choose wisely based on your needs and budget.

therapy dog insurance

Choosing the Right Therapy Dog Insurance Plan

With the basic types explained, here are some key factors to consider when selecting the best therapy dog insurance plan:

Your Therapy Dog’s Breed

Insurance rates may vary depending on your dog’s breed. Large or “high risk” breed dogs tend to have higher premiums compared to smaller companion breeds. Be upfront about your dog’s breed when getting quotes.

Your Dog’s Training

The more obedience titles and therapy dog certifications your dog has completed, the lower the insurance risk. Mention all training and pass relevant documentation to possibly qualify for a discount.

Your Volunteer Experience

New therapy dog handlers paired with inexperienced dogs pose more liability risk initially. Over time as you log volunteer hours incident-free, you may qualify for loyalty or claims-free discounts on renewal.

Your Risk Tolerance

Think about your budget and how much risk you’re comfortable assuming yourself. Do you prefer broader coverage even if it costs more? Or can you accept some out-of-pocket risk to save on premiums?


Available Discounts

Inquire about any discounts the provider offers, such as multi-dog or multi-year policies. Being a member of a therapy dog organization may also qualify you for partnered discounts.

Claims Process

Understand the claims procedure in case of an incident. Look for easy online claims forms and a reputation for promptly resolving claims fairly.

Weighing these key factors will help you choose the right coverage levels and provider for your unique therapy dog and volunteer situation. Don’t overlook this important responsibility – your therapy dog depends on you to keep them protected.

Additional Therapy Dog Volunteer Insurance Considerations

Once you have the primary therapy dog insurance in place, consider these optional add-ons depending on your needs:

Volunteer Accident Coverage

This coverage pays your medical expenses if you’re injured while volunteering. Most regular health plans may not cover accidents that happen on volunteer visits.

Equipment Insurance

If you use specialized equipment like comfort vests or visit bags, add coverage to replace these items if lost or damaged on the job.

Non-Owned Auto Insurance

Driving your own vehicle to volunteer places adds risk. This covers your liability if an accident occurs during therapy dog transportation.

Travel or International Insurance

For handlers who volunteer at distant locations or take therapy dogs abroad, ensure coverage applies outside your local area.

Additional Insured Endorsement

Some therapy dog organizations require you to add them as a co-insured for liability protection during visits under their name.

Do your due diligence to fully protect both you and your four-legged co-worker as therapy dog handlers. Additional voluntary coverage gives you extra security for just a small incremental cost.

Putting It All Together

To recap, properly insuring your therapy dog should involve:

  • Choosing between basic liability or multi-peril coverage based on your needs
  • Shopping rates from multiple providers considering your dog’s breed and training
  • Purchasing adequate liability limits of $500k to $1M as standard
  • Adding medical coverage if your budget allows for unexpected vet bills
  • Asking about discounts for experience, multi-pet plans or industry memberships
  • Buying any relevant additional insurance like equipment or auto coverage
  • Maintaining continuous annual protection throughout your volunteering career

With the right therapy dog insurance in place, you can feel confident to share the unconditional love of animal-assisted interventions without worry. Thanks for taking the time to understand this important responsibility for therapy dog handlers. Please let me know if you have any other insurance questions!