Practice Owners: Discover the Trust

 An Overview of the AVMA Trust for Practice Owners

As a veterinarian and practice owner, you are committed to promoting the health of your patients, serving the needs of your clients, and protecting the safety of your employees. 

Just as you are dedicated to your calling, the AVMA Trust is committed to serving AVMA members and the veterinary profession. Most veterinarians know the AVMA Trust for professional liability insurance, but the AVMA Trust is designed by veterinarians for veterinarians to offer comprehensive insurance coverage and risk-mitigation resources for veterinarians at all stages of their careers – including practice owners like you.

We invite you to take a few minutes today to discover the Trust. Throughout 2021, we’ll reach out and encourage you to learn even more about the value the Trust adds to your AVMA membership, to vet your practice’s insurance policies, and to discover new ways to mitigate your risk. 

Discover the Trust

Owning and growing a veterinary practice is no walk in the park with Fido. From hiring talented employees to dealing with all types of clients, managing day-to-day operations, and advertising your services, practice ownership is more than a full-time job. That’s why many of your colleagues look to the AVMA Trust for support with an often-overlooked aspect of ownership: protecting your business.

Protecting a veterinary business means protecting its people, its property, its equipment, and its reputation. Knowing how – and with what coverages – to protect your life’s work is critical.

That’s why we encourage AVMA members to discover how the AVMA Trust, with its more than 55 years of passionate involvement with the veterinary profession, offers comprehensive business coverages for practice owners like you. 

Protect Your Practice

  • Business Owner’s Package. A key part of your business is your physical space: your building, medical equipment, furniture, computers, and more. Veterinary Business Property and Liability insurance – also known as a Business Owner’s Package – protects all that and more.
  • Employment Practice Liability. As important to a practice owner as professional liability coverage, EPL coverage responds to allegations such as wrongful termination, discrimination, and sexual harassment.
  • Group Professional Overhead Expense.1 If you are unable to run your business due to a covered disability, this coverage can help provide for operational expenses like rent, utilities, and employees’ salaries.
  • Animal Bailee. If you hospitalize, board, or transport animals, you could be held responsible for the injury, loss, or death of an animal in your care. This coverage is even more of a must with curbside service during COVID-19.
  • Data Breach. Every business is susceptible to cyberattacks and data breaches – and the average data-breach cost to a business owner is high: $214 per individual compromised record. Don’t get caught footing this bill yourself.
  • Flood. A flood can quickly cause thousands of dollars of damage to floors, medical equipment, and biologicals. Without a flood insurance policy, all flood-related expenses must be paid out of your pocket.
  • Commercial Auto. Just as with personal vehicles, it is against the law to drive a commercial vehicle without insurance to cover injuries or damage to others that an employee causes as a result of a car accident.

Protect and Support Your Team

  • Workers’ Compensation.2 Your business is more than just property. Workers’ Compensation protects your team members financially if they are injured on the job. A good program also can provide strategies for avoiding injuries in the first place.
  • Association Health Plan. Healthy employees are happy employees. Finally, veterinary practices of all sizes have access to an affordable group health plan for their teams. Plans are available in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • Employee Benefits Program.3 Give your employees extra peace of mind by providing them with a variety of group insurance products and value-added services, including life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance, an employee assistance program, estate guidance, and more.
  • Association Retirement Plan.4 The AVMA Trust plan – available to practice owners and their teams – was designed with the unique needs of the profession in mind, while offering cost efficiencies, simplified administration, and reduced fiduciary burden.

Protect Yourself and the Ones You Love

  • Professional Liability. Also known as malpractice insurance, this coverage responds when you are accused of veterinary malpractice. Even if a claim of malpractice is unfounded, the cost of defending yourself and your business can be devastating.
  • Veterinary License Defense. This coverage offers protection against complaints on your veterinary license, including frivolous accusations that could cost you time and thousands of dollars to defend. It can offset the cost of legal fees to protect your ability to practice.
  • Personal Insurance. Homeowner’s, renter’s, and auto insurance are available for you and all members of your practice (including non-veterinary staff). Add Personal Excess (commonly known as umbrella) coverage for an additional layer of protection over your individual primary policies, including homeowner’s, auto, watercraft, and RV policies.
  • Group Disability Insurance.1 If a covered accident or illness keeps you from working, this coverage provides a cash benefit to help with everyday living expenses. Short- and long-term disability coverage is available.
  • Group Life Insurance.1 Could your family maintain their quality of life if your life was lost? Provide protection for your loved ones for a potential day when you can’t be there to support them.

Protect Your Health and Wellbeing 

  • Group Hospital Indemnity Insurance.1 Traditional health insurance rarely covers all the expenses of an accident or illness – especially if hospitalization is involved. Help fill in the gaps with this coverage.
  • Group Critical Illness Insurance.1 In the event of a health emergency, a cash benefit paid directly to you for a qualifying condition can help lessen the financial burden of a serious illness by helping cover medical bills, deductibles, or even day-to-day expenses.
  • Dental and Vision. Take advantage of competitive rates on coverage through Delta Dental of Illinois.

Vetted by Professionals 

Partnering with the AVMA Trust to protect your veterinary business isn’t like dealing with local insurance agents or large carriers. Our program is vetted by professionals – professionals who understand the challenges and rewards of being a veterinarian because they are veterinarians. 

The Trust Veterinarians are your advocates. When you insure your business through the AVMA Trust, you not only combine your buying power with 65,000 other veterinarians to enjoy market leverage and tailored product offerings, you’re backed by a team of doctors advocating for you. 

The Trust Veterinarians have many years of practice experience and they put that experience to work for you by:

  • Speaking directly with veterinarians who call the Trust
  • Reviewing every reported professional liability claim
  • Referring the insurance carriers to qualified veterinary experts to assist in defense
  • Providing professional guidance to the insurance carriers and their attorneys
  • Attending veterinary conventions and association meetings to remain at the peak of their profession
  • Visiting colleges and schools of veterinary medicine to educate students on veterinary insurance 
  • Providing educational content for an array of state and national publications

We know you won’t find a comparable resource through other insurance providers. It’s why we invite you to meet the Trust Veterinarians: 

Dr. Linda Ellis 

It seems Dr. Ellis has always been devoted to the care of animals and the veterinary profession. By age 8 she knew her destiny – and didn’t waste time with a back-up plan. Summers at her grandparents’ thoroughbred farm introduced her to veterinary care, and it was around that time her dad nicknamed her Bird. 

As director of Trust veterinarians, Dr. Ellis is here for you. She speaks directly with AVMA members if they have an adverse event during treatment or need guidance with claims. She also dedicates her time to educating AVMA members and veterinary students on risk management and claims avoidance through presentations at veterinary schools, veterinary meetings and Trust newsletters. 

When you speak with Dr. Ellis, be sure to ask about Lily and Olive, her two Labradors (she’s had Labradors for more than 30 years), and Pikachu and Starly, her Cockatiels.
Dr. Ellis’s Advice for Practice Owners 
“Work with a trusted advisor/insurance professional and insurance carrier who is familiar and experienced with the unique risks of owning a veterinary practice. Remember,  not all insurance is the same. The Trust can provide a complimentary review of what you have and what is recommended so you know if you have any gaps in coverage. If your practice can support it, hire a practice manager. Trying to run the business part and practice full time is a lot to take on.”

Dr. Nina Moledous 

Always surrounded by animals as a child – dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, cows, horses and a pig – Dr. Moledous has lived a life devoted to animals. After being encouraged into Animal Sciences and Pre-Veterinary School by her brother and a friend, she was the owner and sole practitioner of a mobile clinic that specialized in thoroughbred care. 

As a Trust veterinarian, Dr. Moledous reviews malpractice complaints and serves as a sounding board for AVMA members on various topics from client management to recommended insurance coverages. 

Whether you’re looking for advice on a malpractice claim or merely looking to connect with a fellow veterinarian, connect with Dr. Moledous and you might also hear the latest adventures of Guinness the yellow Labrador, Molly the red Dachshund or Beethoven the Quarter Horse Cross Hunter/Jumper pony.

Dr. Moledous’ Advice for Practice Owners
“Treat your employees well – they are the success of the practice. Empower them with responsibilities and listen to their opinions as to the practice operations. You would be surprised at what you will receive in return.”

Dr. Rebecca Stinson 

For Dr. Stinson, it’s easy to describe the best part of being a DVM. Simply put – it’s the grateful hugs, the warm nuzzles and the slobbery kisses (from the patients) as well as the feeling when someone thanks you for helping them through the last days of a pet’s life. 

Dr. Stinson primarily serves the veterinary student members in all SAVMA chapters in the country and beyond. She partners directly with the student ambassador team to provide educational opportunities and fun contests to help future veterinarians understand the role and value of the AVMA Trust. 

Whether you’re currently a student, mentoring a student or just want to reach out to learn more about Dr. Stinson’s role, be sure to ask her about her farm and her domestic long haired calico named Cleo, a black mixed breed dog named Thea and a Oldenburg-Trachener cross named Reno, who is 17.2 hands tall (that’s 5’10” at the withers for the non-horse people).  

Dr. Stinson’s Advice for Practice Owners
“As a practice owner myself, I know it’s important to develop a relationship with professionals you trust – think accountants, lawyers, and insurance carriers. Choose wisely and work with someone who understands what you are trying to accomplish. Veterinary medicine is not one-size-fits-all.”

Dr. Cynthia MacKenzie 

Not surprisingly, Dr. MacKenzie’s journey to veterinarian started with her love of all animals. But it’s her devotion to horses that helps define her positive work. Prior to joining the AVMA Trust, she co-founded the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief campaign to provide vaccines to qualifying equine rescues. 

As a Trust veterinarian, she’s a dedicated advocate to AVMA members during claims processes and is devoted to creating educational resources and presentations to further the profession. It’s that support that allows members to focus more on what Dr. MacKenzie believes is the best part of being a veterinarian: supporting the human-animal bond by helping improve the lives of animals and the people that love them. 

Oh, and when you connect with Dr. MacKenzie, be sure to ask her for a photo of Lily, her “very spoiled and rotten” yellow Labrador Retriever. 

Dr. MacKenzie’s Advice for Practice Owners
“Take the time to review your risk-management strategy (both personal and professional) every year to ensure that your coverages are the most up to date and current.”

Dr. Jennifer Frey 

When other junior high students were navigating the perils of adolescence, Dr. Frey was already charting her life’s journey. It was in the seventh grade – based on her love of animals and strong interest in math and science – that she decided veterinary medicine was for her. 

As a Trust veterinarian, Dr. Frey is a resource to all members. She loves providing not only resources but also comfort to veterinarians that may be dealing with a claim, difficult clients or the loss of a patient. Dr. Frey was mostly involved with small animal medicine for 20 years (primarily dogs and cats with occasional exotic animals like ferrets, rabbits and birds). 

Today, she’s caring for her own pets Lexie (Shih Tzu mix) and Cosmo (domestic short-haired cat). 

Dr. Frey’s Advice for Practice Owners
“Provide mentorship to new hires, especially new graduates. Providing a good work-life balance seems to be key to employee retention. Hire staff you trust to provide good quality medicine so you can take a vacation once in a while!”

Dr. Kara Escutia 

The coloring exercise in the first grade was a standard classroom activity. But for Dr. Escutia it was a declaration. No, it didn’t say she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up; It said “I will be.” It was the anticipation she felt as a child taking her family pets to the veterinarian that helped drive her professional goals. 

Now, as a Trust Veterinarian, she reviews professional liability claims and provides support and advocacy for colleagues. She also provides guidance to brokers and carriers on veterinary topics and presents educational programs to veterinary students and teams. 

Dr. Escutia lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and two young children. Together they have a staffordshire terrier mix named Turtle and two cats: Bagel and Tobby. 

Dr. Escutia’s Advice for Practice Owners
“There is a lot of stress with being a practice owner. Do your best to maintain a healthy work-life balance!”

Member Focused

Part of the mission of the AVMA is to lead the profession by advocating for its members; its goal is to increase member value and satisfaction. To that end, the AVMA Trust is steadfast in its member focus through all insurance protections, risk-mitigation resources, and educational outreach.

The Trust prides itself on supporting AVMA members, and this commitment resonates throughout the profession: 

“The number of details and headaches involved in purchasing a practice is staggering, but the AVMA Trust made one part of the process very easy. They helped us determine the insurance we needed, got us quotes in a timely manner, and handled all communications with the banks to provide the documentation they needed. We highly recommend the AVMA Trust as a smooth and cost-effective way to make sure your practice is properly insured.”

 Dr. Kris Kane and Dr. Melissa Johnson, Oceanview Veterinary Hospital

“I went with AVMA Trust business insurance for convenience  I could get all the various types of insurance I would need to run my mobile veterinary practice in one place. In addition to convenience, I was pleasantly surprised to find promptness, efficiency, responsiveness, and really friendly and courteous agents.” 

 Dr. Therese Lee, Wagon Tails Animal Clinic LLC

“As a new clinic owner, the task of determining specific insurance needed can be very overwhelming. After receiving a massive checklist from the bank requiring proof of various insurance policies, I knew I needed to seek guidance. I am so grateful I made the call to the AVMA Trust.” 

 Dr. Derek Haggard, Hometown Veterinary Clinic of Jacksonville

1Group insurance underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company (NY, NY 10010) on policy form GMR.

 2AVMA PLIT-sponsored Workers’ Compensation insurance is not available in North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming.

 3This program is offered in partnership with The Hartford. All benefits are subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. Services are offered through vendors which are not affiliated with The Hartford and these services are not insurance. The Hartford is not responsible and assumes no liability for the goods and services described in this material and reserves the right to discontinue any of these services at any time. Service may vary and may not be available in all states.

 4The AVMA Trust Association Retirement Plan is offered through Transamerica, in partnership with TAG Resources and Envestnet Retirement Solutions.

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