Running an animal shelter or rescue requires a big heart. One of the best parts of volunteering for an animal welfare organization is matching previously neglected animals with families that are ready to love and care for them. In some ways this is also the most challenging part of being a volunteer since it is common to develop a bond with the dogs, cats, and other animals. A lot more goes into managing an animal shelter. Directors in charge must also make sure the organization is adequately insured.

Buying the right insurance begins with finding an agent that understands the unique activities involved in shelter life. And it requires understanding what to look for on an insurance policy in regards to coverage and exclusions. Shelters often have insurance in place such as general liability, volunteer, and commercial property if they have a building, but the policies may have exclusions that place the organization at risk.

  1. Breed Exclusions

If you own a home and have a dog, you may remember having to answer what breed the dog is or even be aware that it is difficult to find homeowners insurance when you have certain breeds. Some insurance companies insure animal shelters and rescues but exclude what they refer to as high-risk breeds. Breeds most commonly excluded include Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepards, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Siberian Huskies. Breed exclusions may not be a concern if you only care for cats or a specific breed not on this list, but if you are an all-breed rescue and accept any of these into your care, the insurance could be void as a result.

  1. Are Animals Covered?

Unfortunately, another common exclusion is animals altogether which means that any claim resulting from one of the animals will not be covered. This includes bites, if they cause another injury, or even if they get loose and cause an automobile accident. Since animals are the center of your mission, this is an exclusion you should ask about immediately.

  1. Dog Bites

Dog bites are often an exclusion because of the high cost of medical care and settling these types of claims. Since most nonprofit animal shelters don’t have the funds to afford these types of expenses, making sure your insurance includes protection against dog bites is essential.

  1. Designated Locations

Some insurance policies limit coverage to specific locations listed in the policy. This limitation should be a concern for organizations that attend adoption events or utilize foster homes for care. If an incident were to occur at any location other than the listed one, the insurance policy would not pay the costs associated with it.

Animal shelters are a vital part of their local communities. To provide care in the long-term, it is essential that you have the right insurance in place. If you find any of the exclusions mentioned above on your insurance policy, it may be time to contact an agency that specializes in animal welfare organizations for guidance.

Animal Welfare Organizations provide vital services to communities across the country, striving every day to make the world a better place for neglected animals. A mission they could not fulfill without the help and support of a dedicated team of volunteers and financial supporters. Even though they operate on a much smaller budget than larger corporations, their access to confidential information makes animal welfare organizations a prime target for cyber-criminals.

While it is natural to think that small animal welfare organizations would be at the bottom of these criminals’ target list, limited resources makes them more susceptible to an attack. One of the common cyber criminal activities that spiked in 2018 before beginning a slow decline is ransomware attacks.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is a type of malware that hackers use to infect a device or website and hold the information hostage. To regain access to their information, the victim has to pay a ransom for the cyber-criminal to release it.

The most common way for a cyber-criminal to infect computers with ransomware is by using a phishing scam. Phishing scams occur when these hackers send emails to volunteers or employees at the animal welfare organization. Unlike regular spam, these emails are disguised as being sent from somebody the individual should trust. The emails include attachments, and when the volunteer or employee opens the attachment, it releases the malware onto their computer.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Even though cyber-criminals seem to get smarter every day, there are some steps animal welfare organizations can take to minimize the threat of an attack.

  1. Always install updates on computers and software to prevent any “holes” in the program or device. Failing to install updates promptly makes it easier for cyber-criminals to hack into the system.
  2. Require any downloads or program installs to be approved by a designated IT volunteer or resource. This assures the wrong types of software (i.e., malware) are not downloaded by mistake.
  3. Install antivirus software that includes malware protection on all devices.
  4. Train volunteers on how to identify phishing scams.
  5. Create an acceptable use policy for the organization’s devices and require all volunteers to sign and acknowledge the expectations.
  6. Backup programs, files, and systems at least weekly to not lose any crucial information.

The best way to protect an animal welfare organization from the aftermath of a ransomware attack is to buy the right insurance now. Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program can help you find cyber liability insurance to protect your financial well-being.