Traveling the Insurance Maze

December 22, 2011

Your nonprofit animal shelter or rescue can be at risk for lawsuits from many different risks.  The only to fully protect the orginization is to review your potential risks and pin point how to minimize it.

There are many more types of specialty insurance that may be beneficial to your animal welfare organization such as, police professional liability and bailees insurance if your organization provides private boarding for people’s pets. Other available coverage’s for your organization include flood or earthquake coverage depending on your location, crime loss protection usually for mobile spay/neuter clinics, professional liability for an organization that offers advice, services, and counseling to other organizations or individuals, and fidelity bonds to protect organizations if you provide pet sitting or any other services where theft may be involved. Boiler and machinery coverage insures heating or cooling systems, and veterinary equipment. A small computer policy may be needed to cover the hardware and the cost to restore critical data. Discussing your risk and coverage with your insurance broker will be beneficial to being fully covered and have peace of mind.

One way to do that is through proper insurance coverage and a second way to do that is through best practice procedures and policies and implementing risk management. Implementing policies, procedures, and risk management can reduce your exposures.  Pairing that with proper insurance protection that is designed specifically for animal shelters and rescues with greatly reduce the loss your rescue may face. Contact your agency today to make sure you are properly covered. If you don’t have an agent or aren’t sure your agent truly understands your nonprofit rescue or shelter, call the Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program.


Non-Profit animal shelters and rescues are at risk for lawsuits.  It is critical for your organization to be properly protected and insured in the event a lawsuit occurs.  One way to do that is to audit your insurance policies what do they really cover?  Yesterday we reviewed 2 types of coverage your shelter or rescue should have in place. Below you will find another list of important coverages:

Workers Compensation:  Most companies (nonprofit organizations included) are required to carry workers compensation insurance to protect their employees.  This insurance pays for medical bills, disability pay, and for third-party liability in case someone has been affected by the employee’s loss. Volunteers can usually be covered by simply extending your policy.

Business Auto Liability: Does your animal shelter use vehicles to transport rescue animals? If you do then your organization is at risk and should consider business auto liability insurance. Liability for non-owned vehicles is important if your employees or volunteers use their cars to do work for your organization. If you have a small business, a personal auto policy may be best for you because it offers additional coverage to existing personal insurance to cover limited business needs. Personal vehicles can be covered by hired and non-owned coverage if the volunteers and staff use their own vehicle for business work.

Directors and Officers: (D&O) insurance covers the accidental actions of board members that can result in liability. These disputes are usually between the executive director and the board of directors, so it is important that small business is covered by D&O insurance as well. Allegations of improper financial oversight, harassment, or discrimination are also covered by D&O as long as the organization actions are legal.

Umbrella liability:  insurance expands the liability limits of your general liability, workers compensation, commercial auto policy, and directors and officers. The additional coverage is usually purchased in $1 million layers, and this additional coverage is often a great value. By adding just a small amount to your premium you can double or coverage, or more.


Finding an insurance agent that you trust is very crucial for getting the correct coverage at the best price. Unfortunately, there is not an insurance policy that will cover everything; there are usually exceptions to your policy that may not work with your animal shelter or rescue, so it is incredibly important to read all of the exceptions in a policy. On a better note, if there is a lawsuit against your Nonprofit Animal Rescue that is covered by your insurance, then the defense costs are covered by the insurance company, even the high cost of hiring a lawyer.

What does your policy cover?

General Liability:  In the case of bodily injury or property damage to another person not associated with your business, as a result of negligent actions for which your company is responsible, general liability insurance would be helpful to have. An prime example of this would be if a visitor to your shelter slips and falls outside on an icy sidewalk.  With this insurance, it is important to check to see if your policy excludes event coverage for off-site events because that could leave your company unprotected. General liability insurance may also cover medical payment which often covers medical costs for injured volunteers unless they are classified as “additional insured”.

Commercial Property:

Property insurance covers the animal shelter buildings and the contents of the business and may also cover loss of income in case your business suffers certain accidents such as fire. You should talk to your agent about receiving enough property insurance to be able to rebuild the shelter structure as well as replace the contents of it. The value of the land does not need to be covered because it will still be there even if your building gets damaged or destroyed. There are a few objects that usually are not covered by property insurance which include detached signs, fences and trees.

It is important check with your agent to make sure that your animal rescue or shelter is fully covered. You may event want to consider a specialist agency like Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program for your insurance needs.  THey work hard to protect animal rescues and shelters like yours and will even give you a free policy review!