What is AVMA Veterinary License Defense Insurance?: Insurance for Veterinary License From the AVMA
What is the AVMA professional license defense insurance? The AVMA or the American Veterinary Medical Association has what is called the PLIT, which is a Professional Liability Insurance Trust. And then through that trust, they offer vets a variety of different insurance types. The most common or at least the most utilized by vets is the professional liability insurance also known as malpractice insurance, and so if a vet was sued by a client, they would be covered under the malpractice policy. And then the AVMA also offers professional licensing board defense coverage and let’s kind of walk through that. If a past client files a board complaint against the vet and they have this coverage offered by the AVMA, they would have an attorney provided and assigned to their case without any kind of payment necessary from the vet.
PLIT Coverage Programs
Let’s go over the costs. They have three types of plans, and the plans are based on the defense limit. Meaning how much can be spent on the case, on attorney’s fees without the vet having to cover any of it. And it’s 25,000, 50,000 and a hundred thousand. And the annual premium is $104 for the $25,000 limit, $120 for the $50,000 limit, and $135 for a hundred thousand dollars defense limit. Now, as a professional licensing board attorney myself who has represented, I think, close to a thousand healthcare professionals before the different licensing boards, a hundred thousand dollars defense limit is probably unnecessary and honestly crazy as far as how much it could cost a vet. Like a normal licensing board attorney for just an average case if they’re doing a flat fee can cost somewhere between 5,000 to maybe 10,000 at the most. It is exceedingly rare for a case with a vet to go beyond that. Really the only scenario where a vet could rack up $50,000 in legal costs would be, let’s say they went through the board process, they were unhappy with the decision, they appealed, went to an administrative hearing, which is kind of the process in every state.
They were unhappy with the administrative law judge’s decision, then they decided to appeal this case to the Arizona superior court, and then they went through that litigation process in superior court, that is a scenario where a vet could rack up one of those large limits. If it’s just a normal board wrap, meaning, someone files a complaint, there’s an investigation, and the vet goes before the board, it is very unlikely that you would rack up even $25,000, which is the lowest limit in legal costs in attorney’s fees. There’s just only so much that can be done in these situations. And there are only so many appearances that need to be made by the attorney that it would just be very hard to get that to that amount.
Additionally, these insurance companies place some relatively low caps on the hourly rate for defense attorneys. There is no cap if you were just to hire an attorney on your own, they could charge you whatever they want. Whereas if you have this policy, usually the hourly rate cap is somewhere between 175 to 225 an hour for the attorney representing you. And so, because the cap is so low compared to what a normal attorney would charge who is experienced doing this type of thing, you just have, I guess, more hours that can be spent by your attorney defending you before you were to reach those limits. It is a no brainer to get this coverage. I mean, for $120 a year to have $50,000 in a defense limit for a board case, it’s worth going and paying for that per year.
Veterinary License Defense
I think most vets think there’s a very small chance that I would have a board complaint filed against me. However, I’ve defended plenty of vet board cases. And usually, it’s when a pet dies and obviously people are very attached to their pets. And most of the time, it’s not the fault of the vet that the pet passes. But when it’s an owner who’s just absolutely attached to the animal, they want to blame somebody, and the vet is the person that they go after. So, if there was death involved and someone was just very upset about it, the only recourse they can take is to file a board complaint unless they want to go through with a malpractice claim, but honestly, it’s rare that there’d be a lot of plaintiff’s attorneys that would be willing to take of that veterinary malpractice case.
Health Care Board Investigation
There’s just not enough money in it to make it make sense. I guess the reasons why that could be open to liability with the board case would be if their documentation was poor if they deviated from the standard of care when they were providing care to the animal. And then there are some behavioral issues as well, substance abuse issues, criminal issues, those types of things that sometimes may be reported, but those are exceedingly rare when it comes to deaths. Most of the time it’s either a documentation error or a clinical error. And then the board would obviously investigate it. The vet would have to present in front of the board at some point, and then the board would vote to decide on what they were going to do to the license of the vet. But just to hammer this home, it is absolutely worth the extra a hundred dollars a year to get this coverage. There’s no reason not to get veterinary license defense coverage.
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