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Zoo Insurance: Cost, Liability & Quotes From $5

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A zoo is a facility where animals are hosted within enclosures. They are cared for and displayed to the public. In some cases, these animals are bred for conservation purposes. If you own a zoo, you understand the various risks it poses. This is why it is essential to get zoo insurance that protects you from possible lawsuits. 

To enlighten you on the importance of business insurance for zoos, we will discuss it in detail and mention its cost. We will also highlight factors affecting its price and what it covers. 

What Is Zoo Insurance?

Zoo insurance provides protection against the exposures that zoos face.  Such exposures may be lawsuits from the guests, unforeseen business closure, death of animals in captivity, equipment breakdown, and many more.  Zoo insurance consists of numerous policies that provide a solution to the exposures mentioned. These are:

  • General liability insurance

  • Public liability insurance

  • Commercial property insurance

  • Workers comp insurance

  • Animal in transit 

  • Business interruption insurance

Carriers often offer business insurance for zoos having a business owner's policy. A business owner's policy bundles general liability and commercial property into one insurance product with lower rates. It also allows the policyholder to add any other custom policies for more coverage without any significant increase in premiums. When it comes to comprehensive zoo business insurance coverage, zoos and petting farms must not look for anything else but a good business owner's policy. 

You can't operate a zoo on your own; you need several employees. When an employee sustains serious injuries when working in the zoo, they could file a claim against you. The lawsuit could be costly, especially if the employee sustains life-threatening injuries. With an employer’s liability insurance cover, you could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements. Thankfully, petting zoo insurance covers such costs. This will help keep your business stable. 

General Liability Insurance for Zoos

Animals in captivity are dangerous, even the most docile ones. In the United States, animal attack incidents in zoos have happened. In fact, agencies keep records of this.  Zoos have liability for any harm their guests experience. May it be the guests’ fault or the zoo’s.

In the past 26 years, there have been 256 reported zoo animal attacks that resulted in 33 fatalities. Such frequency means that zoo animal attacks are rare but do happen. 

An animal that’s well documented in zoo attacks is big cats. And since 1990, it’s estimated that there have been at least 300 big cat incidents that have happened in zoos. Here are some proof:

  • February 7, 2009 - A leopard owned by Mcclelland Critters Zoo attacked a 2-year-old boy resulting in severe lacerations that needed at least 100 stitches. The boy’s family sued the zoo for what happened

  • October 29, 2008 - A 1,000-pound liger attacked a volunteer worker in Safari’s Wildlife Sanctuary resulting in a punctured neck and upper back as well as trauma to the vertebrae

  • January 20, 2008 - A volunteer experienced a broken thumb and lacerations after a cougar attacked her.

  • 2007 -  A volunteer at the Capital of Texas Zoo was bitten by a cougar when she reached into the pen to pet the animal

Aside from big cats, there have been documented cases of apes, elephants, and other zoo animals attacking people. And since the threat of animal attacks are apparent, many zoo owners opt to get general liability insurance for protection. General liability insurance helps as it provides money to the policyholder to cover any lawsuits filed by an injured guest or volunteer. Also, it covers any damage to property too. 

Public Liability Insurance for Zoos

Aside from animal attacks, zoos also have to think about what might happen if animals escape from their cage. Here are some examples:

  • May 16, 2012 - 50 animals in Terry Thompson’s zoo escaped. As a result of this, schools had to be closed and community members had to stay in their homes. A lawsuit was filed against the owner because of the incident

  • August 25, 2019 - Three howler monkeys escaped from an enclosure at the Abilene Zoo through a door that had mistakenly been left open. The monkeys were on the loose for approximately 15 minutes before being recaptured

  • December 30, 2018 - A male African lion escaped from an unsecured holding cage at Conservators Center and mauled to death a 22-year-old intern while she was cleaning the lion’s enclosure

  • June 21, 2018 - Two male grizzly bears at the Milwaukee Zoo escaped from an enclosure through an unlocked gate and entered an adjacent fenced area

Escape incidents can lead to mass hysteria, leaving many of the guests and even the community in panic. Lawsuits can arise when escape incidents happen. This might not only come from the guests but also from concerned community members. 

General liability insurance won’t apply to lawsuits community members file. What can give protection instead is public liability insurance. Both work the same way. The only difference is that general liability works for lawsuits made by a zoo’s guests while public liability works for lawsuits made by the public. 

Commercial Property Insurance for Zoos

Zoos have a lot of assets that need to be maintained and replaced in case of damage. And so, it’s best to have insurance that will cover the cost of doing these things. In zoos, the most common assets commercial property insurance can cover are buildings, cages, enclosures,  and worker safety equipment.  It’s estimated that without insurance,  zoos might need to spend more than $50,000 annually for repair and maintenance. 

Workers Compensation Insurance for Zoos

Those working in zoos are at risk of injuries.  The job is risky because of the likelihood of animal attacks. Here are some examples:

  • February 27, 1999 - Two chimps from Hogle Zoo attacked two staff members. The attack resulted in bitten fingers and ears as well as severe lacerations to the face, head, arms, and chest

  • July 20, 2019 - A Himalayan bear at the zoo of  Nemacolin Woodlands Resort attacked an employee while the woman was giving a tour at the facility. The bear reached through the wire fence of the enclosure, grabbed the employee, pulled her to the fence, then bit her arm

  • May 8, 2019 - An employee was scratched under the chin by an 18-pound, 8- week-old tiger cub at Walnut Prairie Wildside during a public handling session

  • April 20, 2019 - A 275-pound male tiger attacked a keeper at the Topeka Zoo while she was cleaning the outdoor area of the animal’s enclosure.

To provide protection for workers,  a zoo must have workers comp insurance in force. A workers comp insurance functions to pay for the hospitalization and lost income compensation for an employee who suffered from a work-related injury.  In case of death, workers comp insurance also provides death benefits to the employee’s spouse and children. 

Animal in Transit Insurance

Zoo insurance offers animal in transit insurance. This is a coverage that works when zoo animals are being transported from one location to the next. When zoo animals die in transit, animal in transit insurance helps by reimbursing the policyholder the partial or the full value of the dead cargo. Also, it covers any liability that might arise when zoo animals in transit escape and cause damage. 

Business Interruption Insurance for Zoos

Zoos can sometimes close temporarily because of the following reasons:

  • Facing a state-filed lawsuit or sanction

  • Conduct safety checks and evaluations of animals inside

  • Protect guests from unusually aggressive animal behavior

  • Install new facilities and amenities

Temporary closure can result in significant losses. And so, carriers offer business interruption insurance. Business interruption functions to provide money so that the zoo can pay employees, loans, electrical bills, water bills, and other related costs even if revenue is not generated.  In simple terms, business interruption prevents a zoo from losing any profits because of paying for costs while business operations are at a halt.

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Petting Zoo Insurance

Petting zoos or petting farms work differently than zoos. And so, they might not qualify for the standard zoo insurance. Aside from standard zoo insurance, carriers also offer petting zoo insurance.  Petting farm insurance consists of the same policies that zoo insurance has such as:

  • General liability 

  • Commercial property insurance

  • Animal in transit coverage

  • Public liability

  • Business interruption

  • Workers comp insurance


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Zoo Insurance Cost

  • Zoos and petting farms pay an average of $45.42 a month or $545 a year for a $1 million general liability coverage

  • The cost of public liability insurance for zoos and petting farms is $65 a month or $780 a year for a $1 million coverage

  • Commercial property insurance for petting farms and zoos is $85 a month or $1,020 a year for a coverage worth more than $2 million for equipment breakdown and damage to business property

  • Workers comp for petting farm and zoo employees cost $49 a month or $588 a year

  • The cost of premiums for animal in transit insurance is 2.5% or 5% of the total value of the animals in transit.

  • Petting farm and zoo business interruption insurance cost is $88 a month or $1,056 a year

While the cost of a zoo insurance policy is easy to estimate, several factors determine its price. Here are some of those factors.

Location

Location is one of the significant factors that determine the cost of insurance for zoos. If your zoo is located in a busy city where many people are likely to explore it, you could spend more on your insurance policy. Zoos with high traffic mean more people could sustain injuries in your zoo, increasing the risk of claims. On the other hand, if your zoo is located in a lower populated area with minimal activities, you won't spend much on your insurance cover. These areas are generally safe, and the risk of animals causing damage to visitors is low. However, it would help if you had zoo insurance to protect your employees.

The state your zoo business is located in also determines the cost of insurance. Some states have set limits on the kind of zoo insurance policy every zoo business should have. For instance, when the limit is $200 per month, you must have an insurance policy above this amount. Furthermore, some states also need you to have specific insurance policies that could be costly. Therefore, it is essential to check the laws of your state before getting zoo insurance. 

Number of Employees

You cannot run a zoo on your own. Given the many activities in a zoo, you will need several employees. If you have many animals to care for, you will need more employees. The more employees you have, the more expensive your insurance policy will be. Insurance companies will ask how many employees you have before deciding the total cost. This is important because the insurance covers all of your employees. When one is attacked by an aggressive zoo animal and sustains serious injuries, zoo insurance will cover their medical expenses. This is why petting farm insurance will cost more if you have many employees. 

Claims History

The rate at which a claim is filed against your zoo business also determines the cost. If your business faces many lawsuits due to injuries or property damage, you will spend more on insurance. As a zoo owner, you know the damage animals can cause during the operation of a zoo. For example, you may have an open day at the zoo with hundreds of people coming in to see animals. Then, one of your animals manages to break the lock and starts running towards the visitors. Afraid of their safety, they rush in different directions. At the same time, some trip and fall, breaking ankles and sustaining other serious injuries. When that happens, zoo insurance will cover the medical expenses. This is why insurance companies check the claim history before deciding the price.

Size of the Zoo

How big is your zoo? If you have a large zoo with hundreds of animals, you need a higher insurance policy. This is necessary because the chances of claims or lawsuits are high. Besides, an established zoo attracts an increased number of visitors, meaning the risk of injury is high. When the zoo has many people, injuries could also be many when an animal breaks loose and causes chaos. On the other hand, you won't need an expensive insurance cover if you have a start-up zoo with only a few animals.

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Best Zoo Insurance Companies

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CoverWallet Zoo Insurance

Insuranks rating 10/10
Best for Best Overall
Average cost $39
Year Founded September 2015 and acquired by AON at 2020
CEO Inaki Beringuer (former)
Headquarters 101 Avenue of the Americas 18th Floor New York, NY 10013 United States
Customer Support (646) 844-9933
AM Best Rating A ( excellent)
BBB Rating A+
Number of Complaints 158

Why Get Insured By CoverWallet?

  • CoverWallet allows the policyholder to furnish an online certificate of insurance within minutes

  • Has an online personal finance advisor

  • Has online live chat agents that can help the customer decide the best coverage to get

  • In partnership with accredited and established carriers in the United States

  • Allows the customer to get zoo insurance quotes within 2 minutes

  • Rates start at $39 a month

  • Offers custom policies at competitive rates

Why Take CoverWallet with a Grain of Salt?

  • Not an insurance company and offers the insurance policies of its partners to customers




Prime Zoo Insurance

Insuranks rating 8/10
Best for Zoo insurance and zoological society insurance
Average cost $45
Year Founded 1990
CEO Rick J. Lindsey
Headquarters 8722 S. Harrison St. Sandy, UT 840701 S. Dearborn St. Suite 800 Chicago, IL 60603700 11th St. South Suite 201 Naples, FL 34102 690 Stockton Drive Suite 100 Exton, PA 19341
Customer Support 801.304.5500 or info@primeis.com
AM Best Rating A ( excellent)
BBB Rating A+
Number of Complaints 1

Why Get Insured By Prime Insurance?

  • Offers specialty insurance packages for zoos and zoological societies that have foodborne illness coverage, excess liability, and professional liability insurance

  • Zoo insurance also covers aquariums and recreational parks that have mini-zoos

  • Available in all 50 states

  • Has an in-house underwriting process

Why Take Prime Insurance with a Grain of Salt?

  • Some customers reported that Prime insurance might implement hidden charges


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