Professional Indemnity Insurance for Veterinarians

Why do veterinarians need professional indemnity insurance?

Professional indemnity insurance is insurance designed to protect professionals from negligence or civil liability claims arising from the performance of their professional duties. The term professional applies to anyone who is an expert in their field and provides advice or services in a professional capacity. Veterinarians can perform a wide range of duties in the course of their profession. These may include:

  • assessment of healthy animals
  • assessment and treatment of sick animals
  • routine protective measures (i.e. vaccinations)
  • provision of animal health advice
  • assessment and treatment of genetic disorders
  • use and interpretation of diagnostic tools
  • prescribing of medications.

In the course of performing these duties, they can face a wide range of exposures. Key liabilities for veterinarians include:

  • negligence with consultations
  • failing to correctly diagnose and treat illnesses or ailments
  • negligent application of diagnostic tools
  • failure to adequately care for an animal
  • providing incorrect medication or treatment
  • providing erroneous advice
  • failing to provide routine health protective measures.
The panel of insurance brokers that handles finder.com.au's enquiries is not able to provide quotes for professional indemnity insurance for Veterinarians as it is provided direct through medical indemnity providers.

Veterinarians should have adequate professional indemnity insurance to protect their practice and their assets. Professional indemnity insurance may even be required for admission to veterinary organisations such as the Australian Veterinary Association.

The definition of ‘adequate’ cover will vary with the type of veterinary work being practised. Those vets who work in local practices treating small animals will be less exposed to indemnity claims and may require only basic cover.

Dog

However, those who work with farm or zoo animals will face greater exposure due to the value of the animals involved and those who treat animals such as racehorses will face the greatest liability exposure of all, due to the high value of such animals and the size of the loss that could be experienced.

What does professional indemnity insurance cover?

Veterinarians need professional indemnity insurance just as lawyers and doctors do, along with a host of other professions where expert advice and services are provided. If one of your clients suffers a loss resulting from an alleged error or omission or negligent act on your part, professional indemnity insurance will protect your assets if you are sued to recover that loss. A professional indemnity insurance policy will cover the cost of defending a claim in court and also any damages awarded to the claimant, up to the limit of indemnity of the policy.

Professional indemnity insurance normally covers liabilities such as:

  • erroneous information or advice
  • breach of confidentiality
  • conflict of interest
  • loss of documents
  • failure to follow instructions
  • unintentional defamation or libel
  • breach of contract
  • intellectual property rights infringements
  • breach of consumer protection laws
  • breach of fair trading laws
  • misleading and deceptive conduct
  • employee dishonesty

Depending on the policy, it may also cover other costs such as inquiries, investigations and court appearances. The one thing professional indemnity insurance will not cover is liabilities recognised under criminal law.

Tips on how to compare professional indemnity insurance for veterinarians

Thanks to the internet, comparing professional indemnity insurance policies is a lot easier than in the past. You can obtain quotes and compare policies without leaving home.

However, it is important to look beyond the cheapest price and determine whether the policy has the cover that you need. Things to consider include:

  • The limit of indemnity – whether it is enough to cover the highest claim that could be brought against you and the total amount of claims you could potentially face in a year.
  • The type of excess – whether it is costs-inclusive (goes towards legal fees) or costs-exclusive (goes toward damages payable).
  • The number of reinstatements – whether there are enough to cover multiple claims in the same year.
  • The territorial limitations – whether you will be covered if a claim emanates from another country.
  • The particular exclusions – whether any situation is excluded that you might need cover for in the course of doing business.
  • The relevance to your profession – whether the policy is specific to veterinarians and describes accurately your duties and liabilities.
  • The credentials of the insurer – whether they have a good industry rating and can provide a high level of service.
  • The extent of cover – whether the policy covers you and also those acting on your behalf, such as employees and contractors.
  • The inclusion of run-off cover – whether you will be covered for claims arising from work performed in a previous business.

Veterinarians need professional indemnity insurance just as lawyers and doctors do, along with a host of other professions where expert advice and services are provided. If one of your clients suffers a loss resulting from an alleged error or omission or negligent act on your part, professional indemnity insurance will protect your assets if you are sued to recover that loss. A professional indemnity insurance policy will cover the cost of defending a claim in court and also any damages awarded to the claimant, up to the limit of indemnity of the policy.

Professional indemnity insurance normally covers liabilities such as:

Brown dog

  • erroneous information or advice
  • breach of confidentiality
  • conflict of interest
  • loss of documents
  • failure to follow instructions
  • unintentional defamation or libel
  • breach of contract
  • intellectual property rights infringements
  • breach of consumer protection laws
  • breach of fair trading laws
  • misleading and deceptive conduct
  • employee dishonesty.

Depending on the policy, it may also cover other costs such as inquiries, investigations and court appearances. The one thing professional indemnity insurance will not cover is liabilities recognised under criminal law.

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Public liability cover for veterinarians?

Public liability insurance is another form of insurance all veterinarians should have. Any business that has dealings with the public needs protection, in case a third party suffers injury or property damage as the direct result of doing business with you.

As a veterinarian, you will normally see clients at your practice and also on visits to properties in your area. In both instances, there is the potential for injury or damage; everything from a pet owner slipping over on your surgery floor to your attempts to catch an uncooperative animal resulting in damage to a farmer’s property.

Public liability insurance claims can be in the millions of dollars these days, so public liability insurance is a must-have and can be purchased along with your professional indemnity insurance at minimal extra cost.

Learn more about the cover public liability insurance provides

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FAQs about professional indemnity Insurance for Veterinarians

Q. I have never been accused of negligence. Why should I bother with professional indemnity insurance?

  • A. Because even if you are not at fault, a claim could be brought against you and you would have to defend it in court at your own expense.

Q. How much cover do I need?

  • A. This may be prescribed by any professional organisations you belong to, but the level of cover you ultimately opt for should reflect your particular circumstances and your level of potential liability.

Q. What protection does professional indemnity insurance provide?

  • A. It protects your business and personal assets if a claim is brought against you, allowing you to continue running your practice.

Q. How do I apply for professional indemnity insurance?

  • A. In many cases, you can simply fill out an online application form, provide additional information over the phone and receive your cover within 24-hours.

Q. What is civil liability indemnity?

  • A. This indemnifies you for claims that arise from strict liability where negligence is not a factor.

Q. What is the retroactive date?

  • A. The retroactive date is the date from which you are covered by your professional indemnity insurance policy.

Q. When should I notify my insurer of an event that I think could result in a claim?

  • A. As soon as possible, or else the claim could be denied due to a known circumstance.

Q. What is a known circumstance?

  • A. A circumstance where you were aware or, given your professional position should have been aware that a claim would be forthcoming prior to that claim being made.
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