Hurricanes can displace whole counties of residents, sweeping away homes, businesses, and even wildlife. For owners of animal and veterinary care services, a hurricane could mean the loss of much more than just bricks and mortar. Attorney Bill Voss explores hurricane coverage options that can protect kennels, shelters and rescues, groomers, veterinarians, and other pet-related businesses.
Insurance Coverage Extensions for Animal Care Providers
There are many reasons a simple Business Owner’s Policy may not be enough to cover all of the losses caused by a natural disaster. For one thing, private flood insurance that pays to clean up and repair damage from a broken pipe or leaking roof will usually not cover storm surge flooding from a hurricane. If your business is located in a flood-prone area, you should purchase coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to cover the costs of extensive water damage.
Animal care providers should examine their insurance policies closely to determine exactly how much they can claim for:
- Structural damage. The best property damage policies are tailored to the specific facilities and services of the business. A one-size-fits-all policy may not equally cover the immediate concerns of a veterinary clinic and a pet daycare center, so owners should check the policy carefully to determine what features are covered (the business structure and inventory within), and which may be excluded (outdoor signage and lighting, fencing, or outbuildings).
- High-value equipment. If your operation relies on equipment that will be extremely costly to replace—such as security systems, surveillance cameras, diagnostic machines, surgical tools, or cast cutting and molding tools—the loss of one or more of these could quickly place you over your maximum property damage coverage limit. of chosen by the policyholder—and anything lost beyond this set dollar amount may not be compensable.
- Data loss. Power and utility services may be lost for weeks after a hurricane, and sudden surges can cause the loss of both computer equipment and software. Computer coverage can cover water damage to computers and hardware, while electronic data loss can pay to replace lost customer records, media, data programs, and telecommunications equipment.
- Depreciation. If your policy covers the “actual cash value” of items, the company will pay only the estimated current-day value—often far less than it will cost to replace the item. On the other hand, a replacement cost policy will provide the full amount needed to replace inventory with items of like kind and quality. You and your insurance provider should agree on whether you will receive the full replacement value of lost items, or the replacement value minus depreciation.
- Mortality insurance. Customer pet coverage pays for injuries or death to boarded pets on your property or in your custody. Similarly, stock mortality insurance may cover the loss of injured or rescued animals lost while undergoing treatment in your facility. If your facility keeps or boards horses, you may also need equine coverage to cover all animals and their environments.
- Refrigerated goods. Small- and large-scale operations can suffer considerable losses from perishable food, plants, bedding, or medicines needed for animal livelihood. Spoiled goods insurance can pay to replace refrigerated inventory, live plants, or other perishable goods that were contaminated or ruined in the storm.
- Business income losses. Business interruption coverage is one of the most important forms of insurance, as it can pay to keep your business afloat as you attend to repairs. Depending on policy limits, business income insurance can replace six months (or more) of lost profits, allowing you to pay employee salaries, rent an alternate office location and business vehicles, and transport animals and operations to another site.
If you are having trouble getting the insurance coverage you paid for after a flood, the Voss Law Firm can help. Simply fill out the form on this page to get your questions answered by one of our experienced insurance claims attorneys, or learn more about filing a claim in our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.