Interacting with patients on a daily basis exposes you, your employees, and your practice to professional liability. Generally, any provider of healthcare services (or anyone that provides direct/indirect patient care) needs medical malpractice insurance. This includes doctors (medical students/residents/fellows), mid-level providers, allied staff, and their affiliated entities. In most states, it is mandatory for doctors to carry malpractice insurance; furthermore, many hospitals require it in order to have privileges at their facilities. It is also common for healthcare insurance plans to require any doctor who participates in their program to have malpractice insurance.
Bottom line: It is wise to carry malpractice insurance, whether it’s required of your or not, due to the likelihood of you having a malpractice claim sometime in your career.
Questions to Ask
As you look for the right medical malpractice insurance coverage, work with your agent to determine:
1) Who needs to be insured?
2) In what capacity should they be insured? (individual or shared policy)
3) At what level do they need to be insured? (limits)
Key Considerations for Determining the Right Coverage
Insuring the Practice
In the event of a malpractice claim, many people can be named, including the “name on the door” i.e. the practice, itself. Corporate coverage is a frequently overlooked item when determining who needs to be insured. The practice has vicarious liability exposure that must be taken into consideration, as it may be held responsible for the acts of an employee committed within the scope of employment. Talk to a knowledgeable insurance agent to make sure that all affiliated entities are properly insured; such as solo corporations, DBAs, or any legal entity name that is affiliated with your practice.
Shared vs. Individual Policy Limits
After you have confirmed who needs to be insured, you’ll need to decide in what capacity they should be covered – individually or on a shared limit policy. Individual coverage gives the named insured their own unique policy and set of limits; whereas shared limit coverage is exactly what it sounds like, a policy that is shared among multiple people. It is generally recommended that doctors and higher-risk mid-level providers (such as CRNAs, Midwives, PAs, or NPs) carry their own individual policy limits; however, you can discuss all the available options with your agent to determine what is best for your practice. Most corporate policies will include coverage for nurses and allied staff on a shared limit basis, but you usually have the option to carve any of those providers out and insure them separately, if you feel that the risk necessitates it.
Malpractice Policy Limits
You’ll also need to decide how much coverage (what limit) is appropriate. Limits vary by state – some states have standard limits that all providers carry, and others allow you to select your own level of coverage. When determining the policy limit that is right for you, be cognizant of the varying levels of risk within your practice and be sure to comply with the requirements that may be imposed by your hospital or credentialing organization. It is possible for one provider to carry higher limits than another within the same practice, but work with your agent to ensure that the level of coverage is appropriate and acceptable with the carrier.
Tips for Mid-level Providers, Medical Students, Residents, and Fellows
Oftentimes providers do not have a choice when it comes to their malpractice insurance, particularly if it is provided for them through their employment, medical school program, etc. While you may not be able to control the type of coverage and carrier that you are using, be knowledgeable on the above topics so that you understand how you are covered in case you are ever named in a malpractice lawsuit. Be sure to obtain a copy of the policy under which you are covered and keep record of the dates of your employment. If you ever have questions about your coverage, don’t hesitate to ask your practice administrator or the appropriate person at the medical school/residency program – or contact a knowledgeable malpractice insurance agent.
Additional Coverage to Consider
Beyond medical malpractice, it may be prudent to consider billing errors & omissions coverage, cyber liability coverage, and medical director coverage, among others. Talk to your malpractice insurance agent to determine the right coverage options for your practice, and as always…the experts at Aegis are happy to discuss your unique practice needs to help you find the right malpractice coverage solution!