If you are practicing medicine, malpractice insurance is a must. Myths and misunderstandings surrounding professional liability insurance for doctors make the subject more complicated than it is. Here are some common medical malpractice insurance myths, followed by the facts:
You Cannot Be Sued for More Than Your Policy Limits
This statement is false. You are the one being sued for malpractice. If a jury awards a plaintiff an amount that exceeds the limits of your medical malpractice coverage, your assets may be at risk for the balance. Judgments can be placed against your assets for the amount beyond your coverage limits.
It is vital to have policy coverage to match your practice. Many medical malpractice policies provide coverage ranging from $100,000 to $300,000 per claim and from $1 million to $3 million per policy period (typically one year). You are personally responsible for any damages that exceed policy limits.
Only Doctors Need Medical Malpractice Insurance
Medical providers other than doctors are exposed to medical malpractice risks. Nurses, PAs, and other healthcare providers face liability exposure. Medical malpractice insurance can help protect a range of medical professionals, including Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Clinical Nurse Specialists, medical students, residents, and others. Any healthcare services provider, and anyone who provides direct or indirect patient care, needs medical malpractice insurance.
If You Are Covered Under Your Employer, You Don’t Need Your Own Malpractice Insurance
Although most medical employers provide some malpractice insurance for their employees, you may need personal, professional liability insurance to be fully protected. Personal coverage is portable from job to job. It can protect your assets, your license, and your financial future wherever you go. A malpractice claim may be filed up to two years after treatment, at which point you may have moved on, and the previous practice may have closed or merged into another practice or hospital.
Having Personal Malpractice Insurance Makes You a More Likely Target for a Lawsuit
This is also false. When a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, lawyers for the plaintiff name every provider involved in the patient’s care who may be liable, as they only have one opportunity to present their case in court. They have no way of initially knowing who has personal malpractice coverage or their policy limits. Public registries of private insurance contracts do not exist. Information about medical malpractice coverage comes later, in the discovery phase of the litigation process.
Doctors No Longer Need Medical Malpractice Insurance Once They Retire
Exposure to malpractice claims continues for some time after you have stopped actively practicing medicine. Claims-made medical malpractice insurance provides coverage for incidents that occurred and were reported while you were insured with a carrier. If retirement is impending, consider purchasing a tail. This is an extension of a claims-made insurance policy to cover the window of liability after you terminate your practice. Our agent can help you weigh risk against cost to find the most affordable option.
It’s the perfect time to remind ourselves to plan ahead for the ones we love.