The risks of running a veterinary office.
Caring for animals is no easy task and the business of that care comes with very specific risks. Protecting your veterinary office by obtaining the proper insurance coverage is essential. To start, you need the basic policies that most businesses do. This includes general liability, commercial umbrella, and cyber liability. In addition, you’ll want to insure against losses that cause your business to temporarily shut down, which is why a business interruption policy should be strongly considered.
Addressing the specialized risks.
The equipment veterinarians need can range from mundane to very specific, but all of it must be insured. Replacing the high-value equipment needed for your practice can be quite costly and must be properly insured. If your office also boards, hospitalizes, or transports animals, animal bailee insurance can protect you in the event an unfortunate incident should occur resulting in injury to an animal. Simple business insurance just isn’t adequate to cover the risks veterinarians face.
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Veterinary practices are susceptible to many risks, such as claims due to bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and more.
General liability insurance is an absolute necessity for any practice. It provides broad coverage when you are deemed responsible and liable, and will also pay to defend any covered lawsuit or action, regardless of its merit. Additional limits are also available with a commercial umbrella insurance policy.
The internet has spun a whole new web of liability exposures. E-commerce, social networking, cloud storage, and other technologies bring great benefits to large and small practices alike. But with these benefits also come challenges, including protection of privacy, data, and the financial information of your customers.
Cyber liability insurance protects your practice in the event of unauthorized access to electronic data or software within your network. It also provides coverage for spreading a virus, extortion, accidental release of personal identifiable information, and resultant damage caused by a lost or stolen laptop or other mobile device. This coverage is quickly becoming more and more important as you embrace technology to help run your practice.
Veterinarians and licensed staff face a high risk of being sued by patients for such things as claiming a wrong diagnosis or treatment. All lawsuits must be defended, regardless of merit.
Professional liability insurance, commonly known as veterinary malpractice insurance, can help with the cost of legal expenses and other damages if a lawsuit is filed making allegations regarding errors in your work.
What would you do if a fire impacted the operation of your practice? Or what if a pipe leak caused a system outage or extended downtime? These and other events can destroy your ability to treat patients and bring in revenue, which can have a major long-term impact on the viability of your practice.
Business interruption insurance compensates you for lost income if your practice cannot operate as normal due to damage that is covered under your commercial property insurance policy, such as fire or water damage. This type of insurance covers the revenue your practice would have earned, based on your financial records, had the incident not occurred. The policy also covers continuing operating expenses such as rent, electricity, and ordinary payroll.
Many veterinary offices unknowingly underestimate the costs associated with replacing medical equipment. It’s not uncommon to find out that there is not enough coverage to replace it, and sometimes it’s already too late.
With a business owners insurance policy (BOP), most office equipment is included as business personal property and would be protected in the event of a covered loss. For specialized, high-valued equipment, a separate policy may be required. Your agent or broker can help you to make that determination.
If one of your employees receives an injury or becomes ill due to a work-related occurrence, you are required by law to have the proper coverage in place.
Workers' compensation protects your employees should a job-related injury or sickness occur during the course of employment. This coverage is required by law, so be sure that you understand your obligations.
On average, it’s estimated that three out of five businesses will be sued by their employees. While there is nothing you can do to prevent someone from filing a lawsuit, you can limit the costs of defending a legal claim with proper insurance coverage.
Obtain employment practice liability insurance (EPLI) to protect your practice and its directors, officers, and employees from alleged employment-related acts such as wrongful termination, failure to promote, discrimination, and sexual harassment.
What happens when your practice faces a large liability loss that exceeds the basic limit of your standard policy?
You should consider purchasing a commercial umbrella insurance policy which provides higher limits, typically between $2,000,000 and $10,000,000, and often broadened coverages. Coverage is extended over various policies, including general liability insurance, business auto, and directors and officers liability insurance.
If your practice hospitalizes, boards, or transports animals, you can be held responsible for any number of things that can happen to the animal while it is in your care, custody, or control.
Animal bailee provides coverages for damages arising from causes unrelated to treatment. This can include fire, theft, escape, flood, or an attack by another animal.
More and more, people are reporting practices to their state licensing bureau for any number of reasons that are not related to the care you’ve given an animal. Defending these claims often requires representation by an attorney who has specialized knowledge in this area.
Responding to complaints against your veterinary license can be very costly. License defense coverage can help cover these costs. This separate coverage is necessary because this type of complaint is separate from lawsuits covered by malpractice insurance.
Malpractice and license defense.
Any veterinary practice can be faced with a malpractice lawsuit or a complaint to the state licensing bureau. These claims must be defended, even frivolous and unfounded ones. This defense is likely to be expensive. Hiring attorneys who are familiar with specialized knowledge of veterinarians will be required. Veterinary office insurance is available to help pay for this. Additionally, should damages or fees be awarded, your veterinarian insurance policy will make the funds available.
Insurance for the people in your workplace, too.
There’s always a risk that employees can be injured on the job, and veterinary offices are no exception. Caring for animals, particularly sick or injured ones, can lead to someone getting bitten. Scalpels, needles, and other medical tools also carry the risk of injury. Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory, but it’s important in that it can pay for the medical bills of an employee who gets hurt or sick on the job.
For more information about protecting your practice with veterinary office insurance, contact us today.
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