When you signed on as an employee, a volunteer or a member of the board of directors at your animal shelter no doubt your main concern was providing a valuable community service and taking care of animals in need.  You planned to use your time maximizing your organization’s resources to their best end. So, why are you spending precious time and energy reading about insurance?

In these difficult economic times, it is tempting to buy a cut-rate insurance policy or to skip insurance altogether when you are budgeting for a lean, non-profit.  Don’t fall to temptation. Insurance protection for an animal shelter is as important as providing healthy food for the animals.  Every person involved in or with your group needs and deserves the right kind of protection. Not providing thorough protection puts not only your organization but many individuals at risk.

Animal shelter insurance covers several things that are not covered by the average insurance policy.  When you are researching insurance ask the following questions:

  • Are all dog breeds covered?
  • Are volunteer accidents/injuries covered?
  • Are fostered and adopted animals covered?
  • Are special events and fundraisers covered?
  • Are vehicles owned by the shelter covered and who may drive them?
  • Are board directors and officers covered?

If these particular items are not covered, consider the risk a lawsuit poses to your organization’s finances and, perhaps, its very existence. Board directors and officers give much to your group in terms of time, financial support and community connections. If they are not covered by the organization’s insurance, their personal assets are at risk. Good employees and volunteers are difficult to find and train. They deserve to be covered in case of an accident. The same holds true for your foster parents and families who adopt animals from your shelter.

Searching for animal shelter insurance has no warm and fuzzy appeal yet, it might be the most important step you take toward protecting your shelter and helping it provide the best possible service to the animals and your community. If you are uncertain of your group’s current insurance situation don’t wait to bring it up at the next staff or board of directors meeting. Knowing you’re fully covered will give you the peace of mind to focus fully on your mission.


Insurance can be one of the most expensive aspects of business from animal welfare organizations. Many go without the coverage they need because they are facing budget cuts or need the funding they do have for other needs, such as animal shelters for all their critters. The team members at AWOIP, LLC (Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program, LLC), are the go-to folks when it comes to securing insurance for animal shelters. Some types of insurance policies that they can offer are:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Volunteer Accident & Health Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Commercial Property Insurance
  • Special Event/ Fundraiser Insurance

But to have insurance for the shelters your organization uses, you need to be able to afford those shelters. When funding and donations do not cover these expenses, there is another way you can get the money you need. Grants for animal shelters are abundant, if you know where to look and how to go about getting them.

Many big name environmental organizations and animal welfare groups offer grants and funding help for other smaller groups who are struggling to do the same work. You could look at any local groups that are doing a similar work and see if you could form a partnership with them. They can provide the help you need and offer a unique perspective and they might also be able to recommend places you can look for grants for animal shelters and people you can talk to get some more funding.

State and federal organizations offer grants for any number of things. Chances are you can find grants for animal shelters simply by looking online. You might also want to search based on the type of facility you are. Some grants for animal shelters are base don the type of animals you work with so you could possibly find a grant that fits you perfectly and not have a lot of other competition for the money.

Another option you have is to reach out to people whom you know support the work you are doing. Many well known actors, celebrities, and iconic individuals support animal welfare. It does not hurt to reach out to these individuals and see if they might be willing to help you with the funding you need. Grants for animal shelters can be found, it just takes a unique approach and new way of looking at it.

Things are not always how they seem; at least it seems that way after reading an article on earthquake safety by Doug Copp. He has worked with every major disaster in the world since 1985 and knows some great safety tips that may seem opposite to us, but more effective.

  • Do not duck and cover under objects, most people that do this get crushed.
  • It is natural for a being to curl up into a fetal position when threat is upon them, so listen to your natural instinct and do so next to a bulky object (such as a sofa) that will compress but leave a slight gap next to you.
  • Since wood is flexible and leaves many voids if the earthquake knock down the house, they are the safest buildings to be in. Brick does break into individual blocks during an earthquake and can cause injury but it is better than being crushed by concrete.
  • If you are in bed when an earthquake strikes, simply roll off your bed, right next to it and it will leave a void.
  • If it is impossible to escape from a window or door during an earthquake then curl up in  the fetal position next to a bulky object.
  • It is very important not to be anywhere near a doorway during an earthquake, it almost always leads to death.
  • You should avoid stairs at all costs, even after the earthquake before they get checked for safety.
  • If you are ever in a car during an earthquake, get out of the car and lay next to the vehicle, you are less likely to get crushed outside of the vehicle than inside of it.
  • Copp discovered that paper leaves many voids as well, so perhaps taking cover next to a large stack of paper will save your life.

Copp has named the void between these objects as the ‘triangle of life’. If you look at pictures after an earthquake, you can see the triangle in between the bulky objects, which is how he came up with this. Copp’s ‘triangle of life’ theory has been tested with the theory that we are taught (duck and cover) and his had a 100% survival rate while the other had a 0% survival rate. Next time you’re in an earthquake remember bulky objects are for lying next to, not under.

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.


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!