The Business of Practice: Plugging Veterinary Insurance Gaps
If you are a busy sports medicine practitioner and your ultrasound machine is destroyed when a horse kicks it, does your insurance cover the loss and a replacement? iStock

What you don’t know can hurt you! That is especially true if you are a practicing veterinarian who doesn’t have the proper insurance coverage. Veterinary insurance is important for personal and business protection, said Nina Mouledous, DVM, a Trust Veterinarian for the AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust (PLIT).

“Insurance comes in four ‘buckets,’ ” explained Mouledous. “Personal, professional, business and employee-related.”

Are You Covered? Maybe?

She said what veterinarians need to understand is that not all insurance was designed to cover the things that equine practitioners face in their lives.

“Regular insurance likes to ‘exclude’ things,” explained Mouledous. For example, are you covered if a horse kicks or knocks over your ultrasound or portable X-ray machine? She said you might think so, but “animal damage to equipment” is usually not covered by normal insurance policies.

If you are an ambulatory veterinarian and you are in a vehicle accident, is that same equipment covered? Maybe, said Mouledous.

If your practice or vehicle refrigerator quits working and you lose drugs and biologics, is that covered? “Most insurance does not cover the losses in the fridge,” noted Mouledous.

What if you have a nitrogen tank with frozen semen or embryos that fails? “Your business of practice (BOP) insurance needs to include spoilage,” she stated.

Five Veterinary Insurance Endorsements

Based on decades of helping equine veterinarians with insurance, Mouledous said the AVMA PLIT recommends these five endorsements on a veterinary insurance policy:

  • Animal damage to equipment
  • Spoilage
  • Mobile coverage of equipment
  • hire non-owned auto
  • business interruption

In the podcast, Mouledous goes into explanations of what each of these is and how to protect yourself.

One key tip she gave was as equipment ages, you want to insure it for replacement value, not cash value. “Most insurance companies provide only cash value,” she said.

Mouledous explained that if you purchased an X-ray machine for $30,000 and it gets destroyed, and a new one costs $50,000? In that case, the veterinarian is out-of-pocket for that $20,000 difference. All the while the veterinarian is trying to get back to work, she added.

Which brings up the issue of business interruption. How many appointments did that veterinarian miss while the X-ray machine was not working and before she could get a replacement?

“If a horse damages your X-ray machine or ultrasound and you can’t work for 10 days, business interruption insurance kicks in for those 10 days,” she explained.

Business interruption insurance can be a game-changer if your building or vehicle is damaged or destroyed, she said. It can pay for cleanup, payroll expenses, transportation to a new facility, your mortgage, loss of income, and outside services.

Ask a Veterinary Insurance Expert

There are many resources on the AVMA Trust and life insurance websites for practitioners. If you have specific questions, Mouledous said to end her an email and she will be happy to help. Or you can use the AVMA PLIT Contact Us form.

About Dr. Nina Mouledous

Nina Mouledous, DVM, joined the PLIT as a Trust Veterinarian in June of 2008. In her role, Mouledous speaks to AVMA members insured through the PLIT-sponsored programs. She answers questions related to malpractice allegations and practice situations. She reviews professional liability claims, assists in the defense by identifying experts and appraisers, and advises the insurance broker and underwriters about new developments in veterinary medicine. Additionally, Mouledous visits several colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States annually. She represents the PLIT at various veterinary conventions and speaking engagements each year, and contributes to PLIT publications.

Mouledous is a 1985 graduate of Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine. Born and raised in New Orleans, Mouledous secured her first job as an associate veterinarian at a unique small animal, exotic and equine practice in the French Quarter. In 1989 she relocated to Chicago and started her equine practice. Mouledous was the owner and sole practitioner of Equine Veterinary Services, Ltd., for 19 years. That mobile practice specialized in Thoroughbred racehorses at Hawthorne Race Course (Chicago, Illinois) and Arlington Park (Arlington Heights, Illinois). During her career, she served as a consulting veterinarian for the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation. She also was a board member for the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association.

Disclaimer: This content is subject to change without notice and is offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, “Synchrony”), make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in this article are the sole opinions of the author and roundtable participants. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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