Veterinary practices play an essential role in the health of beloved pets. Like all businesses, veterinarians face risks. Learn how veterinary insurance can protect your practice so you can focus on what matters.
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How Veterinary Insurance Works
There’s no single veterinary insurance policy. Veterinary insurance is made up of several policies that are tailored to the specific needs of your business. Most veterinary practices will need general liability insurance, professional liability insurance and property insurance. Other types of insurance could be important depending on the size of your practice, whether you have employees or use vehicles to do business.
Types of Veterinary Insurance
Here are the types of business insurance a veterinarian should consider.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance is essential coverage for any business. It covers:
- Bodily injuries: If a client is injured on your premises, general liability insurance will help cover any damages if the client sues. It typically also helps to cover medical costs that arise from the injury.
- Property damage: If a client’s property is damaged in the course of your work, this coverage helps with any resulting claims.
- Personal and advertising injury: This covers claims due to libel and slander.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance protects your property. This includes your building, inventory of supplies and equipment. It provides coverage in the event of a fire, storm, theft and vandalism. It doesn’t cover damage due to floods or earthquakes, so if you live in an area that’s likely to experience those events, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage.
Business Interruption Insurance
A disaster will impact more than just the physical structure of your business. It impacts your ability to do business. That’s especially damaging for a veterinary practice, as pet health issues typically can’t wait. Clients will need to make other arrangements, which could lead to lost business.
Business interruption insurance can’t stop your business from being impacted but it can soften the blow by making up lost income, making lease, mortgage, rent and loan payments, paying taxes and helping you make payroll. These policies often have a 30-day limit, but you may be able to opt for a longer payment period by talking with your insurer.
Business Owners Policy
A business owners policy (BOP) bundles general liability, commercial property and business interruption insurance. It’s generally less expensive to purchase them as a bundle, and these policies are well-suited to small- and medium-sized businesses. Talk to potential insurers about whether it’s better to buy a BOP or separate policies.
Professional Liability Insurance
General liability insurance protects you from nonprofessional injuries. For example, if someone slips and falls at your practice, it’s not related to your professional work. Professional liability insurance protects you in the event of a claim related to your veterinary expertise. Also known as malpractice insurance, it helps cover your legal defense if you’re sued for negligence, inaccurate advice or another issue related to your professional work.
Commercial Auto Insurance
If you or your employees transport animals or make house calls, commercial auto insurance is critical. Like personal auto insurance, you can choose to get basic, minimum coverage or additional coverage. At a minimum, you’ll need liability insurance, and many states also require you to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and medical payment coverage.
Liability insurance helps to cover damages to the other parties if you or your employees are involved in an accident. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps to pay for costs if there’s an accident involving an uninsured driver. Medical payment coverage covers the medical costs of you and your passengers.
You may also want to add comprehensive and collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage covers your work vehicle for incidents that aren’t related to an accident, like fire, vandalism and theft. Collision coverage helps pay for repairs to your work vehicle if there’s an accident.
Commercial Umbrella Insurance
Insurance policies have limits. These help control the risk the insurance company is taking, and lower limits mean lower premiums for you. The downside to policy limits is that if there’s a claim or damages awarded by a court that exceeds your policy limits, you’re responsible for the difference.
Say you’re in an accident in your work vehicle and found to be at fault, you’d be liable for any injuries to the parties in the other vehicle. If one of them can no longer work, the damages awarded could easily exceed your policy limits.
Umbrella insurance starts coverage when you exceed your policy limits. It provides coverage up to its policy limits. For example, if a court awarded a passenger $1 million in damages and your auto policy covered $500,000, the umbrella policy would cover the other $500,000, subject to its policy limits. It may also cover other areas of risk and reimburse you for deductibles.
Businesses typically purchase commercial umbrella policies from the same insurer that holds their other policies.
Cybersecurity/Data Breach Insurance
Small businesses are an increasingly popular target for cyber attacks. They have personal data for clients, including methods of payment.
Cybersecurity insurance helps to cover you from losses related to cyber attacks. A cyber attack could lock up or even destroy your computer system. You may also need to cover the costs of providing credit monitoring for any clients whose information was compromised. An insurance policy can help cover those costs.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance
Veterinary practices have essential, expensive equipment. If this equipment breaks down, it hurts your ability to provide care. Depending on the language in your policy, equipment breakdown insurance may help to cover repairs to equipment, the additional cost of rush repairs and lost income due to broken equipment.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Most states require businesses with employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It helps to cover their medical expenses and lost income if they experience a work-related injury or illness. It also protects you — having this insurance protects you from lawsuits related to injuries and illness.
Workers’ compensation insurance varies from state to state, so look for an insurance provider familiar with your state’s laws.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
This coverage may be an addition to a BOP or a standalone policy. It provides coverage if an employee sues you for discrimination, failure to promote, wrongful termination and more. Given the expenses involved in legal defense, this coverage is worth considering. An experienced insurance agent or provider can help you decide whether this coverage is right for you.
Cost of Veterinary Insurance
Several factors impact the cost of veterinary insurance. These include:
- Type of practice you have
- Where your practice is located
- Size of your practice
- Number of employees
- Your claims history
Here are the average costs of several types of veterinary insurance. Keep in mind that your costs may vary.
|Policy||Annual Premium||Coverage Limit|
|General Liability Insurance||$350||$2 million|
|Commercial Property Insurance||$755||$60,000|
|Business Interruption Insurance||$500-$1,500||Based on business income|
|Business Owners Policy||$800-$2,000||$1 million per occurence/$2 million per policy term|
|Professional Liability Policy||$500-$1,000||$1 million per occurence/$1 million per policy term|
|Commercial Auto Insurance||$1,700||$1 million|
|Commercial Umbrella||$500-$1,500||$1 million|
|Cybersecurity/Data Breach||$1,500||$1 million|
|Equipment Breakdown Insurance||$25-$50||$50,000|
|Employment Practices Liability Insurance||$800-$2,000||$500,000 per occurence/$1 million per policy term|
Choosing a Veterinary Insurance Provider
Choosing the right provider is an important decision. Contact at least 2-3 providers before deciding which is right for you. Review their quotes carefully, comparing coverage, insurance premiums and service. Look for a provider with an outstanding reputation, competitive prices and stellar customer service.