March 01, 2018

 

 AVMA Life, AVMA PLIT unifying under umbrella trust

AVMA members can anticipate one-stop shopping for insurance

Posted Feb. 14, 2018

More than 65,000 AVMA members have professional liability insurance, life insurance, or other coverage through the AVMA PLIT and AVMA Life—but most of these policyholders don't distinguish much between the Association's two insurance trusts.

On Jan. 5 at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago, the trusts announced that they are unifying under an umbrella trust. Both trusts already have offices in Schaumburg, Illinois, at AVMA headquarters, with the PLIT also having office space in Chicago.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA chief executive officer, said the trusts were set up separately, which made sense then, but with changing times, the trusts can collaborate in creative ways to enhance member service. She said, "We are creating an umbrella trust that will oversee both PLIT and Life, with the eventual goal that they will be merged into one."

Libby Wallace, CEO of AVMA Life, and Dr. Andrew Clark, CEO of the AVMA PLIT, emphasized in interviews with JAVMA News that policyholders' coverage will not change, and AVMA members can anticipate one-stop shopping for insurance down the line.

A long history

"The AVMA: 150 Years of Education, Science, and Service," the book celebrating the AVMA sesquicentennial in 2013, described the decades-long history of the Association's two insurance trusts.

AVMA Life was chartered as the AVMA Group Insurance Trust on Dec. 1, 1956. According to the book, "In 1986, the Trust changed its name to the AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust, to distinguish itself from the AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust, which was chartered Aug. 12, 1962." The latter is now officially the AVMA PLIT.

Each trust is independent of the AVMA, but the AVMA Board of Directors appoints AVMA members to serve as the trustees.

According to the book: "Health, life, and disability were the coverages originally offered by the GHLIT in 1957. In the ensuing decades, the trustees worked with insurance professionals to design and manage new plans arising from the needs of veterinarians and their families."

After 2013, because of the Affordable Care Act, the Trust had to discontinue directly offering a health insurance program, developing a health insurance exchange instead. In 2016, the Trust introduced its new name, AVMA Life, and its new logo and brand, with the tag line "Veterinarian Inspired Coverage."

According to the AVMA sesquicentennial book: "The AVMA PLIT was founded in the 1960s to serve the malpractice insurance needs of AVMA members. A vital component of the PLIT-sponsored program has been advocating for veterinarians in the management of their claims."

"Over time, the PLIT built on the success of the malpractice insurance program by expanding into the areas of business and personal insurance," according to the book. In 2015, the Trust introduced its new logo and brand, with the tag line "Protecting you through it all." 

​The ultimate goal is to be able to bring more efficiencies and a one-stop–shop perspective to the members."

Libby Wallace, chief executive officer of AVMA Life,
in an interview with JAVMA News

 

 

Member needs

Speaking at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, Wallace said policyholders with AVMA Life and the AVMA PLIT will keep the same insurance coverage under the umbrella trust. She said, "This just gives us an opportunity to really enhance that and really make the communication and the conversation with those individuals an easier one and more unified."

In her interview with JAVMA News, Wallace said AVMA members will still communicate with the trusts through the same avenues for the time being. She said, "The ultimate goal is to be able to bring more efficiencies and a one-stop–shop perspective to the members."

The trusts could bundle products, combine marketing, and have one booth at conferences. They do not plan to change staffing. Ideas for the future include exploring new products and services, making the trusts more user-friendly for policyholders, and consolidating billing for all insurance coverage.

AVMA Life and the AVMA Governmental Relations Division also are monitoring a proposed rule from the Department of Labor regarding association health plans that might mean AVMA Life could get back into the business of offering a health insurance program.

Wallace said the move toward an umbrella trust started when AVMA Life, the AVMA PLIT, and the AVMA each did rebranding. The rebranding research made clear that AVMA members don't know the difference between the trusts but do have needs for insurance and for guidance on insurance. 

"What we're doing is we're adapting to match the evolution in how veterinarians do business."​

Dr. Andrew Clark, AVMA PLIT chief executive officer, speaking at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference 

 

(Photo by R. Scott Nolen)​

Doing business

Speaking at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, Dr. Clark said of the insurance trusts, "What we really strive to be is an advocate for you in the areas of insurance that we provide. What we're doing is we're adapting to match the evolution in how veterinarians do business."

In his interview with JAVMA News, Dr. Clark said policyholders with the AVMA PLIT and AVMA Life sometimes don't know which trust to call in the face of an emergency. He said the trusts are unifying under the umbrella trust to provide better member services.

He added that the trusts are not limited to offering insurance programs. He said the biggest headache for most AVMA members in practice is management. He envisions offering support in the areas of human resources and business management as well as sponsoring insurance products.

Dr. Clark said the unification of the trusts will be a gradual, methodical process. He said, "We're dealing with people's lives and their future and their risk, so we're not going to make fast, big changes."

The next step for the umbrella trust is for the AVMA Board of Directors to appoint the trustees. The Board will appoint seven trustees to the umbrella trust, and these same seven will serve as the trustees of AVMA Life and the AVMA PLIT. Two will be current trustees from AVMA Life, two will be current trustees from the AVMA PLIT, and three will be new appointees.

AVMA Life and AVMA PLIT trustees who do not serve on the umbrella trust will be involved on an advisory panel.  

 

Related JAVMA Content

AVMA Life offers ‘Veterinarian Inspired Coverage' (Feb. 1, 2016)

AVMA PLIT transforms brand, expands outreach (Jan. 15, 2015)

AVMA PLIT celebrates 50th anniversary (June 15, 2012)

AVMA GHLIT marks 50 years of service to veterinarians (Dec. 15, 2006)