What is the AVMA PLIT?
What is the AVMA PLIT? The AVMA is the American Veterinary Medical Association and the PLIT is their Professional Liability Insurance Trust. The PLIT is kind of the branch of the AVMA that offers a bunch of different types of insurance for veterinarians. The most important one would be their professional liability insurance, also known as malpractice, where a vet can pay a relatively small fee per year compared to other healthcare professions. And then if any malpractice suits were filed against them, they would be covered under the policy and then would be provided legal counsel. Let’s just kind of go through some of the insurance I guess, opportunities that the AVMA offers through their trust, and then maybe which ones make more sense than others to purchase.
First, they have professional liability insurance, as I just mentioned, it’s an occurrence-based policy, and that means that a policy simply has to be in effect when the malpractice occurs. There is another type of insurance called claims made where a healthcare provider would need to purchase tail insurance after the employment ends, but for a vet, almost everyone goes through the AVMA for the malpractice insurance, just because it’s so affordable. And under that policy it is occurrence-based. And so, no tail is necessary. They also offer veterinary license defense, and this is something I would implore any vet to make certain that they purchase. If you’re a veterinary associate and you’re an employee of a practice, the employer should absolutely pay for your annual premium. The annual premium is just simply how much it costs to insure you on a yearly basis.
And then the AVMA also offers veterinary license defense for an additional fee. Now, malpractice insurance for vets is, as I said before, extremely affordable. Like a small vet exclusive or a small animal exclusive vet with 1 million, 3 million. So, 1 million per claim, 3 million aggregate per year would be like $250 per year. And then if you wanted to add on professional licensing board defense, it’s like $50 extra to add that per year. And if someone did file a complaint against you with your licensing board, most vets or at least many of them want to retain attorneys to represent them before the board. And if you had this licensing defense kind of writer on your malpractice policy, they would then provide you with an attorney who would represent you before the board.
If you were to pay a normal licensing board defense attorney would depend upon the severity of the case, but it could be anywhere between $5000 to $10,000, which most vets are not interested in paying for. Whereas if you were just to pay 50 to a hundred dollars per year, you would be covered if any board complaints happen. There may be some small deductible, I guess I need to investigate that a little bit more, but it certainly is worth it. That’s something to keep in mind. If your employer is going to pay for the malpractice policy which they should, then you would want them to pay for the board defense as well. And if they say, no, we’re not going to pay for it, then just spend the extremely small amount of money.
Just so you can have peace of mind if a board complaint happens. Most vets absolutely do not expect a board complaint to be filed. As a licensing board attorney who also does employment contracts for vets, I can tell you, it happens a lot more frequently than you would expect. Usually, it’s a ticked off client whose animal died for whatever reason. And they are looking for someone to blame and the vet is the absolute target that they go after. Many of the complaints have absolutely no merit at all. However, if the documentation was poor or if they did something that occurred, the vet could be disciplined in some manner by the board which most professionals want to avoid if possible.
They can also offer personals, they offer homeowners auto, identity theft, and excess liability. They have a kind of full-service line of insurance. Now, whether those are worth going after versus using like an insurance agent that you know, I can’t tell you, but they do have kind of a full line of coverage. They also offer business stuff, so workers comp, business property and liability, kind of employment practices, which is normally like retaliation, sexual misconduct, that type of thing. And then auto, umbrella liability, a whole bunch of things. But if you’re just like a veterinary associate, really the ones that are most important to you are just the malpractice and then the licensing board defense. So, that’s what the AVMA PLIT is. I would consider it rare amongst the professions. Most professions it’s spread out like for a physician, there are hundreds of insurance companies and there is no giant company that everyone goes with.
And same can be said for PAs, and NPS, whereas with the vets, it really is like a monopoly for the professional liability insurance, but it’s just so affordable when you offer so much coverage and you have so many different clients that use you, that it’s just kind of a no brainer for a vet. Now, there are other options. It’s not like you only have one option. But for most people, because it’s exceedingly rare for a vet to be sued for malpractice, it just makes sense to go with the lowest cost option.
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