Coverage for Practice Owners

Professional Liability, Veterinary License Defense, and Animal Bailee: Coverage for Practice Owner Veterinarians

As a practice owner, you have a lot riding on you. That’s why securing the right professional coverage is critical to protecting your career and livelihood.

 

 

Why choose AVMA PLIT?

AVMA PLIT was created over 60 years ago by the AVMA to exclusively serve the needs of its members. The coverage available through PLIT was designed by veterinarians for veterinarians to address the unique risks and challenges they face.

Professional liability coverage through AVMA PLIT responds if you are accused of professional malpractice. The program will vigorously defend you, even if the allegations against you are without merit. In the event you are found to have liability in the care of a patient, your policy will pay the costs for which you are legally responsible. The coverage automatically extends to veterinary-related activities such as speech making, consulting, clinical instructing, and serving as a member of a licensing or veterinary accreditation board.

But your professional coverage is not complete without license defense. Veterinary License Defense (VLD) coverage responds to complaints against your veterinary license, including frivolous accusations that could cost you thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to defend. The program will assign an experienced attorney to defend you—and will pay their fees.

And, as a practice owner, you should consider one more layer of protection: an Animal Bailee endorsement. If you hospitalize, board, or transport animals, you could be held responsible for the injury, loss, or death of an animal in your care. And your professional liability may not cover you If the incident occurs outside of treatment. That’s where Animal Bailee comes in—and why it is an essential component of coverage for any practice owner. (NOTE: Only one practice owner per location needs to carry this endorsement.) 

     

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    Choose the plan that’s right for you.

    With so many options and classes, how do you choose the coverage that’s right for you?

    First, identify your practice class. Read the definitions below to determine which one matches your professional activity.

    Then ask yourself some important questions: What is the highest value of an animal you might treat? Animals used for sport, show, or breeding can have an increased value as can service animals. And what about the potential for human injury? Could you afford a client’s medical bills if an animal you are treating causes them a serious injury or even death?

    Review the table below for standard limits for each plan. Excess professional liability limits are also available up to $6,000,000 per claim and up to $8,000,000 annually. Premium rates are for 2023.

    PlanPL Limits*VLD Limits**Predominantly EquineFood Animal or Mixed PracticePredominantly Small AnimalSmall Animal Exclusive
    1$100,000 / $300,000$100,000$1,853$778$414$344
    2$300,000 / $900,000$100,000$2,137$883$446$365
    3$1,000,000 / $3,000,000$100,000$2,777$1,058$509$401

    *Excess professional liability limits are available. Select Plan 3 during the enrollment process to view excess limit options.

    **Additional VLD limits are available and may be selected during the enrollment process. Any VLD limit can be paired with any professional liability plan. Any VLD limit can be paired with any professional liability plan. Selecting a different VLD limit will affect the total premium. The above is for illustration purposes only. VLD covers disciplinary issues that arise out of incidents that occur after the date coverage is secured. If you have had a regulatory action taken against any veterinary license in the past three years, you must wait three years from the date of the regulatory action to apply for this endorsement. A regulatory action means any formal warning, restriction, probation, fine, penalty, suspension, or revocation of any veterinary license. A dismissed compliant is not considered a regulatory action. If you are involved in an ongoing investigation, you are not eligible for coverage. Please contact us when the outcome has been finalized to determine eligibility.

     

    Plan*Any One Animal LimitTransportation LimitPremises LimitAnnual Premium
    8$25,000$75,000$315,000$86
    9$50,000$150,000625,000$1,328
    10$100,000$300,000$1,000,000$2,273
    11$250,000$750,000$1,000,000$2,682
    12$500,000$1,000,000$1,000,000$3,303
    13$1,000,000$1,000,000$3,000,000$4,613

    *If a practice has multiple locations, a different endorsement will be required for each location. The limits and premiums listed are for an individual location. Only one practice owner per location needs to carry the endorsement. 

     Definitions of Classes:

    • Predominantly Equine (Class I) : 70-100% of professional activity is devoted to equine practice
    • Food Animal or Mixed Practice (Class II): 70-100% of professional activity is devoted to food animal practice OR any combination in which no one animal type is 70% or more
    • Predominantly Small Animal (Class III): 70-89% of professional activity is devoted to small animal practice
    • Small Animal Exclusive (Class IV): 90-100% of professional activity is devoted to small animal practice

    Note: The Trust classifies wildlife, zoo, and fur-bearing animals as small animal. Cervidae, poultry, and ratites are classified as food animals.

     

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    We know your reputation matters.

    Being accused of veterinary malpractice is a threat to your reputation and career. Having the right coverage can mean the difference between an insurance carrier rigorously defending your reputation or settling a frivolous claim against your wishes.

    Many malpractice policies include a “hammer clause.” This clause means that if the insurance company recommends that you settle, and you choose not to, you may be financially responsible for both legal expenses and judgments above the amount the insurer could have settled the claim.

    The PLIT program is different.

    The PLIT-sponsored professional liability policy does not include a hammer clause. But it does include a “consent to settle” clause, which means no claim will be settled without your written consent or a court order. With this unique feature, you get to decide whether the claim—and your reputation—will be defended.

    Consider this scenario:  A client alleges you were negligent and files a lawsuit demanding $25,000 for the value of the animal plus emergency surgery and aftercare costs. Your policy includes a hammer clause, and your insurance company recommends that you settle the claim. You’re convinced, however, that you met the standard of care, so you decline to settle. The case goes to trial, and the judgment is for $35,000. Because you refused to settle before the case went to trial, you are personally responsible for the additional $10,000 plus legal expenses after the point of disagreeing with the insurance company’s recommendation. If, instead, your policy had a “consent to settle” clause, the insurance company would pay the full judgement and all legal costs.

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      All malpractice coverage is not the same.

      Court Costs and Fees for Defense Attorneys. Legal fees can be costly, so investigate if these expenses are covered by your malpractice policy and count towards your policy limits—or if additional defense coverage is available through a policy endorsement. Some claims can take years to resolve, resulting in significant legal fees that can deplete your policy limits and leave you personally responsible for excess costs. In the PLIT-sponsored program, court costs and fees for defense attorneys provided by the insurer are covered in addition to policy limits.

      Part-time, Emergency, Volunteer, and Relief Work. Are you covered for activities outside your place of employment? The PLIT-sponsored policy will protect you wherever you legally practice, so you don’t have to worry about securing coverage for part-time, relief, emergency, or volunteer work.

      Claim Review. Veterinary medicine is a science that requires years of education and training. Doesn’t it make sense to have someone who understands the profession reviewing malpractice allegations and handling claims on your behalf? Your local agent may be a friend, but you may be the only veterinarian they insure. And the carrier may not specialize in veterinary malpractice.

      With the PLIT-sponsored program, experienced AVMA Trust veterinarians review every malpractice claim. And the carrier provides seasoned claims adjusters, insurance professionals, and defense attorneys to work on your behalf to protect your assets and reputation.

      Expert Witnesses. The “standard of care” is key to malpractice allegations. When a client questions your professional decisions and files a lawsuit, who will review your standard of care? Who will testify on your behalf? In the PLIT-sponsored program, the insurance carrier works with the AVMA Trust veterinarians to identify expert witnesses for claims, when needed, to appear on your behalf.

      Garnishment of Wages/Future Earnings. If you are found to be negligent and required to pay monetary damages, having large debts or few assets will not excuse you from paying for a judgment. If you do not have insurance to cover such a loss, the court could require you to provide restitution over a period of time through wage-garnishment (subject to state laws).

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