Even though vets only provide medical treatments to animals, it does not mean they’re not at risk of malpractice lawsuits. In fact, there are more than 2,000 veterinarian malpractice cases filed in the U.S. each year. Practicing veterinary medicine comes with a lot of risks as vets deal with animal lives. The change in how people view pets resulted in the rise of veterinarian malpractice cases. With the number of animals veterinarians cater to, the risks of lawsuits are always present. To transfer the risks of malpractice lawsuits, insurance companies offer pet malpractice insurance. Pet malpractice insurance protects vets against possible lawsuits arising from treating animals.
The Increasing Cases of Pet Malpractice
In the past, pet malpractice lawsuits were rare as court laws view pets as personal property. Changes in the way pet owners view animals expose veterinarians to malpractice risks. Pet owners now form significant emotional bonds with pets, often treating them as family members. In the USA, where sixty-five percent of households own a pet, the likelihood of malpractice claims is quite high. It isn’t only malpractice risks veterinarians are at risk for, some other risks come in running a vet clinic or hospital.
How to Minimize Veterinary Malpractice Risks
Veterinarians must provide standard animal care to all animal patients. Failure to follow standard protocols and vet practices can result in malpractice. Here are some tips to cut your malpractice risks and avoid lawsuits.
- Medical malpractice often stems from negligence. It is important to adhere to standard vet practices to avoid negligence.
- Identify common types of malpractice claims and develop ways to prevent them from happening.
- Revalidate your professional practices to make sure you are up-to-date with the current veterinary practices and standards. Attend continuing education and seminars to stay updated.
- Evaluate and update employees’ competency. Make sure employees are knowledgeable about standard protocols and preventive measures. Having competent employees lowers the risk of malpractice. Provide training to employees to maintain and update their competency.
- Document all the patient’s information and treatments. Document everything on the patient’s chart. Charts are valuable evidence when it comes to malpractice lawsuits.
- Regularly check instruments and equipment used in the clinic. Make sure all equipment and instruments are properly maintained and in good condition. Working with outdated or damaged equipment affects the quality of care you give to your patients.
- Always inform clients about medical options they can choose from. Regardless of the costs, pet owners have the right to decide which treatment they like.
- Listen and acknowledge pet owners’ questions and concerns. Proper communication is vital in doctor-client treatments. Pet owners who feel ignored can file complaints, and this can lead to lawsuits.
- Have malpractice or professional liability insurance on standby. You’ll never know when malpractice claims happen. Every practicing professional needs an insurance policy that will protect them in case of lawsuits.
How Pet Malpractice Insurance Works
Veterinarians must secure pet malpractice insurance to protect them in case of allegations of malpractice. Malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance that is designed to protect professionals such as veterinarians against malpractice liabilities. Malpractice claims may result from errors in animal care, treatments, and diagnosis. Failure to provide professional standard care and negligence can also put you on the court stand. Malpractice lawsuits can be pretty expensive. Remember, even if you are not doing anything wrong, someone can always raise allegations and put your license on the line. Securing malpractice insurance will save you a lot of money in case of malpractice claims made against you. Pet malpractice insurance covers the expenses of defending yourself in court in the event of malpractice claims.
The Risks Associated with Veterinary Practice
Veterinarians often have their own animal hospitals or clinics. Running a clinic exposes vets to different legal liability and business risks. Here are some of the risks veterinarians are at risk for:
- Malpractice lawsuits
- Bodily injury and property damage claims
- Commercial property damages
- Loss of income
- Violation of workers’ compensation law
- Data breach
- Road accidents
- Loss of clinic use
- Spoilage of medicines and supplies
- Physical loss of animals under your care
Types of Insurance Coverage Animal Hospitals and Veterinarians Need
In business, it’s either you make it, or you break it. To increase the chances of maintaining your business, make sure you have protections in place. Secure business insurance suitable for your business needs. These coverages will protect your practice and business from various risks and liabilities.
All business comes with risks. Though you can place measures to prevent risks, some risks are not entirely preventable. Ensure you have a shield to protect your business from these risks. Secure business insurance policies to ensure the protection of your business. This coverage provides protection against liability claims and property damages.
- General Liability Insurance
This coverage will help you in case you get sued for inflicting harm or causing property damage. It covers the cost of defending you in court in case of a lawsuit.
This coverage protects various properties your business owns, leases, or rents. It protects commercial properties like buildings, furniture, equipment, fixation, and inventory. It also protects accounts receivables, relevant papers, and records. Not only that, but it will protect your properties from different perils like theft, fire, vandalism, and wind damage.
- Business Income Insurance
This policy kicks in when your business operation suddenly stops due to a covered loss. This policy provides financial support to sustain financial obligations related to your business. It covers the following:
- Payroll costs
- Monthly rental or mortgage fees
- Loan payments
- Other related financial expenses
Workers’ compensation insurance is a legal requirement for every business. State laws require every business to carry workers’ compensation for their employees. Workers’ compensation laws vary according to state. In Colorado, all businesses must provide a workers comp policy to all employees. This policy provides medical and income benefits to employees suffering from work-related injuries and illnesses. As vet employees deal with animals, the chances of getting injured are high. The state government imposes penalties and fines for violations of workers’ compensation laws. This policy protects both employees and employers from work-related risks and hazards.
Vet clinics rendering professional services like transporting animals, mobile spay, or neuter clinics are at risk of road accidents. Make sure that you have commercial auto insurance for vehicles you use for business purposes. Personal auto insurance does not cover vehicles used for business activities. The commercial auto policy protects commercial vehicles including their passengers. It covers the costs of bodily injuries and property damages sustained during the accident.
- Data Breach Coverage
Dealing with pet patients involves private customer information and pet medical records. It is vital in every business to keep private customer information confidential and safe. Cases of cybercrime are rampant nowadays. This coverage will help you in case your business suffers from a data breach. In the event of a data breach, it will cover the costs of the following:
- Notifying affected clients
- Credit monitoring services, if needed
- Public relations services
- Replacement of income in case of business interruption due to data breach
- Ransom or extortion payments
- Defense and settlement payments in case of a lawsuit
- Animal Bailee Coverage
In some cases, pets need to stay in vet clinics or animal hospitals. Whether for treatment or pet boarding, having pets under your care means responsibility. This coverage pays for all expenses related to the recovery of lost animals under your care. This policy covers all types of hazards except exclusions stated in the policy.
- Backup of Sewers and Drain Coverage
Aside from preventive medicine and treatment, some vet clinics also offer grooming services. Grooming involves a lot of hair and fur which can potentially cause plumbing issues. This policy is beneficial for vet clinics as the commercial property policy doesn’t cover sewer or drain backups. The cost of fixing sewer or drain backups is pretty expensive as it may damage other parts of the property.
Who Needs Veterinarian Insurance?
- Pet veterinarians
- Veterinary laboratories
- Animal hospitals
- Specialized animal veterinarians
- Veterinary therapists
- Livestock veterinarians
- Veterinary acupuncturist
- Veterinary neurologist
How Much Does Veterinarian Insurance Cost?
The cost of veterinarian insurance varies according to insurance policy type. Some factors also influence the cost of veterinarian insurance. Most animal clinics spend around $6000 annually for the combination of a wide range of insurance policies. It typically consists of malpractice insurance, workers’ comp, and business owners’ policy coverage.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Veterinary Insurance
- Amount of coverage
- Types of coverage included in the policy
- Size of the clinic
- Types of animals the clinic caters
- Numbers of employees
Small Business Insurance and Veterinary Insurance Providers
- The Hartford
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Commercial
Putting up your own clinic involves a lot of money and hard work. Don’t let risks ruin the business you have worked so hard to establish. Lessen your malpractice risks by getting malpractice insurance. Purchase adequate business insurance to protect your veterinary practice and business against risks associated with your business.
Advantage Insurance Solutions offers a range of business insurance coverage you can trust. We partner with reputable and trusted insurance carriers that offer quality insurance coverage to protect business owners like you. Call us now, and we will help you choose the right insurance coverage for your business needs.