12-12-23 The Roundtable: Liability Insurance Challenges

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Animal sheltering organizations face growing challenges with acquiring affordable liability insurance coverage.  As the number of claims (including some in the seven-figure range) continues to rise, even those shelters with solid track records are paying the price.  Serious dog bites seem to be at the epicenter of this insurance crisis.  Animal welfare organizations are struggling to find coverage -- and when they do find it, the cost can be prohibitive.  

In this discussion co-hosted by CalAnimals and The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, we will have a candid conversation with two representatives from the insurance industry who will share the big picture of what - from their inside perspective - is causing insurance challenges and what organizations can do to mitigate their risks and improve their chances of securing coverage. 

The Roundtable Panel:

  • David Denniston, Director of Risk Management, McNeil and Company
  • Damien Zillas, Compliance Coverage Counsel, Nonprofits Insurance Alliance

Moderated by:

  • Jim Tedford, CAWA, President & CEO, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement
  • Jill Tucker, CAWA, CEO, California Animal Welfare Association

This roundtable has been approved for 1 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credit.

Dave Denniston

Director of Risk Management

McNeil and Company Inc

Dave Denniston is the Director of Risk Management for McNeil and Company, Inc. He also serves as Executive Director of the National FARMEDIC Training Program. Dave has over 30 years in Risk Management, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and has served as an officer in several local, state, and national organizations. Dave has served as Chief, President and Chairman of the Board for the Cortlandville (NY) Fire District, where he is still active as Department Chaplin. Dave is a Fire Commissioner in the Virgil Fire District and a Director for the Association of Fire Districts, State of New York.

Damien Zillas

Compliance Coverage Counsel

Nonprofits Insurance Alliance

Damien Zillas is Compliance Coverage Counsel for Nonprofits Insurance Alliance.  He graduated from Temple Law School in Philadelphia with a JD in 2005 and is licensed by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to practice law.  He practiced as a civil litigator in Philadelphia for 16 years before moving to California.  As a litigator, he was involved with hundreds of cases, took over 1,000 depositions, and tried about 15 cases to verdict. As his firm had a national presence, heI has litigated cases in nearly every state - class action, insurance cases, employment cases, but mostly catastrophic injury cases, including some involving dog bit/attacks.  Currently, he drafts insurance policies and endorsements and sits on Nonprofits Insurance Alliance's product development committee. 

Jill Tucker, CAWA

CEO, CalAnimals

Jill Tucker is a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator and has been involved in the field of animal welfare since 2002, serving as the CEO of CalAnimals since March of 2019. Throughout her career, her strong leadership skills have enabled her to facilitate growth, collaboration, and financial turnarounds, while maximizing impact for the animals.

Prior to joining CalAnimals, Ms. Tucker served as the Executive Director of Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo, CA where she led a facility expansion, a merger with the North County Humane Society in Atascadero, and the opening of SLO County’s first public spay and neuter clinic. During this time, the organization also more than tripled its lifesaving capacity by dramatically increasing animal intakes and adoptions. Previously, she held the position of Executive Director at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, where she spearheaded rapid growth and the completion of the organization’s multi-million dollar campaign for its new, larger shelter.

Jill holds a BS in Business Administration, has worked as a consultant for the Humane Society of the United States and the Vermont Humane Federation to build a statewide animal cruelty response system, and previously acted as Executive Director of the Addison County Humane Society in Middlebury, Vermont.

Jim Tedford, CAWA

President & CEO, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

Jim Tedford accepted his dream job when he joined The Association as President & CEO in June of 2015.  But Jim is no stranger to the organization.  He has been a member for more than 30 years and served as our Board Chairman some twenty years ago.  Jim has been actively engaged in the animal welfare movement for more than 39 years having served as CEO for animal sheltering organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee.  He served as a regional director for The Humane Society of the United States and then spent six years providing direct response marketing services to animal welfare organizations. Jim presents frequently at national and regional conferences on various animal welfare issues, organizational development and not-for-profit management. 

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