Most administrators of zoos, arboretums, and animal parks make sure to protect their operations from potential visitor lawsuits. However, these enterprises need much more than extensive liability insurance—they need enough property damage insurance to cover a total loss after a natural disaster. Attorney Bill Voss explains the specifics of coverage for zoos, aquariums, aviaries, and nature centers, as well as how operators can maximize a tornado damage claim.
Coverages That May Help Zoos and Aquariums Recover from Tornado Damage
Although there may be insurers that specialize in animal exhibition or preservation, it’s important to tailor your coverage options to the specific services your facility offers. A petting zoo will have different coverage needs than a safari park, but either one could be underpaid for a large loss event. The best way to protect against significant losses is to select the policy limits and extended coverages that fit your needs, such as:
- Animal loss insurance. The animals in your care must be insured as your property. If a tornado results in the death of the animals in your care, animal loss insurance provides the amount it will take to replace them with an animal of the same breed.
- Spoilage insurance. General property insurance policies don’t just have limits, they can also contain several exceptions. For example, you may assume the exotic fish in your tanks are covered a tornado strikes your building. However, if the tornado causes a power outage and your fish are killed due to failed pumps and climate control, your policy may not provide compensation. Spoilage insurance can cover any losses caused by utility interruptions, including the animals on your property, the food and drinks you offer, or the lack of clean water to your location.
- Inland marine coverage. Even if animals survive a tornado, they may suffer injuries, shock, or illness that requires extensive rehabilitation. Inland marine insurance protects against animal mortality and injury, which could add up to millions of dollars if you keep a lot of highly valuable breeds.
- Rental insurance. Many zoos and nature centers exchange or lend animal exhibits between locations, allowing people across the nation to see animals from around the world. If you were hosting an animal belonging to another facility, your standard property insurance may not cover the loss. Rental or bailee insurance may pay to compensate the lost animal’s owner, preserving your income and your reputation.
- Special equipment coverage. If you only have general property insurance to cover cages and retail items, a tornado could wipe out your entire enterprise in a matter of minutes. Cages, secure habitats, pumps, food trucks, amusement rides, industrial refrigerators and freezers, and other expensive equipment may need higher policy limits or a separate deductible to fully compensate you after a loss.
- Special event insurance. Zoos and botanical gardens are often used as wedding locations, bringing owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits each year. Tornado damage to your facility may force you to cancel these reservations and prevent you from rebooking until repairs are complete. Special event insurance can pay for lost deposits and catering costs incurred by cancellation of marriage ceremonies, fundraisers, opening of new exhibits, and other postponed events.
- Vehicle coverage. A tornado can damage whole fleets of commercial vehicles in minutes, including animal transport vehicles, tractor-trailers, vans, buses, or leased vehicles. Comprehensive coverage allows owners to pay for non-collision losses, such as broken windshields, dents and scratches, or the total loss of a vehicle.
- Business interruption insurance. Business interruption insurance is the most valuable form of coverage a commercial enterprise can have. It replaces the income you are unable to earn while your business is undergoing repairs from a covered loss, allowing you to continue paying employees and cover out-of-pocket expenses.
We know firsthand how difficult it can be for hardworking business owners to get proper payment for their property damage and income losses. If you’re tired of fighting a commercial insurance company to get what you are owed, the Voss Law Firm can help you get the compensation you need. Fill out our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, The Basics of Commercial Insurance Claims.