It is advisable to obtain public liability and professional indemnity insurance before performing scans for the general public. If you will be scanning from your home, business home and contents insurance is also important.
When I first began teaching canine pregnancy scanning courses to non-veterinarians, over 10 years ago, issues like insurance were still a grey area. Taking care to always teach in consultation with and in the presence of licensed veterinarians, however, our trainees were well-respected, and insurance companies began to open up to the idea of insuring lay scanners to scan for pregnancy – on the firm understanding that no diagnoses were being performed.
We continued to train veterinarians and paraprofessionals alike, side-by-side, for several years. The good practices our paraprofessionals adhered to meant that there were never any claims on their insurance, and an increasing number of insurers began to open their doors to mobile scanners.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is, as the lay scanning industry has boomed, the insurance companies have not kept up to date with new practices. Still basing their calculations on historical data, they continue to take on new scanning businesses with open arms. A minority may ask for evidence of training, but without any understanding of how to judge its quality (we would argue that some training courses, far from equipping students with knowledge, actually teaching them bad practices). Thus, any certificate will do, and we all know that the certificates most trainers offer have no intrinsic worth.
What are the implications?
As the political landscape continues to change and the general public receive more education about safe scanning, it is likely that pet owners will become more aware of their rights, their pet’s welfare, and what to expect from a scan.
An educated and empowered consumer makes the likelihood of a claim increasingly likely. All this would take is a poorly trained lay scanner failing to refer something like pyometra to a veterinarian (e.g. misclassifying it as pregnancy), or even simply misclassifying bowel as pregnancy and charging someone for such a “service” – something which happens regularly – and somebody deciding to take a stand.
When this happens, insurance companies will have some thinking to do regarding what type of scanners they are willing to insure, and their ambivalence towards the quality of training is likely to evaporate. This could leave hundreds of people uninsured, or facing massively increased premiums.
Even something as innocent as public liability insurance is called into question when you look at the number of people using machines imported directly from China (either through somewhere like Alibaba, or a UK company buying from the same marketplace themselves, with no genuine ultrasound experience). These machines have dubious safety ratings, and non-existent or fraudulent ultrasonic output calculations.
What does this mean for me?
If you are not a vet and have not attended an AUA-accredited course, you should consider taking one, to ensure you are up to date in your knowledge on best practices and safe scanning.
If you have have already attended an AUA-accredited course, you should make sure that your insurance company have this on file. Should the insurance landscape change in the future with regard to insurance for scanning businesses, it is important that your insurer can differentiate you from higher risk clients.