The American Family Insurance Co. said Thursday that it erred in canceling the homeowners insurance of a Douglas County sheriff's deputy because of his police dog and apologized for mishandling the matter.
That's amid a national backlash that followed a World-Herald story Wednesday about the national company's cancellation of Deputy Andy Woodward's homeowners insurance.
“It's very clear after looking at it further that we were wrong in our approach to this situation,” Steve Witmer, an American Family spokesman, said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “We have reached out to Mr. Woodward and apologized to him and offered to extend his insurance policy, if that's something he is interested in.”
(Woodward has already changed to another insurance company.)
“This whole situation should have been a relatively easy process and it turned into a hardship for Mr. Woodward, and it shouldn't have been,” Witmer said.
American Family had notified Woodward last week that his insurance would be canceled in December because he keeps his patrol and drug-sniffing dog, Diezel, at his home.
The company had made the decision despite having been told that Douglas County has liability insurance on the dog. It appeared to be a local first, and a national rarity, for a K-9 officer to lose his or her insurance over his or her dog.
Had the company been provided written documentation of the county's insurance, it would have continued the coverage, Witmer said. Woodward had said the insurance company told him it would send a letter for the county to sign — but instead the next thing he received was a cancellation notice.
On Thursday, Witmer said the company takes the blame for not following through.
“It was our responsibility to have made more of an effort to get that documentation. We're looking at our guidelines and procedures in order to prevent anything like this from happening to other law enforcement officers.”