Moonlighting occurs when an individual holds a second job outside of normal working hours. While moonlighting is not unique to the medical profession, it is common among residents and new physicians as a practical way to make additional income and continue honing their skills. Moonlighting is also becoming more common among career physicians; particularly those who work for hospitals or large health systems/medical groups. Many physicians see moonlighting as an opportunity to start a side business or begin diversifying their work to provide options for the future.
There are several key issues to consider from a malpractice perspective. Here are 4 tips for you to think about before you proceed with a moonlighting opportunity:
1. Check your malpractice insurance policy to see how you’re covered
Most employed physicians’ malpractice policies are not written on a broad form; they are limited scope & duty policies. This means that your policy only covers you for claims related to the work that you do for that employer. If the incident that led to a complaint falls outside the scope of your job description or falls within a policy exclusion, you may not have coverage.
If you provide professional medical services outside the scope of your employment, even if it’s as a volunteer or a favor to your neighbor, you need to have a separate policy in order to be covered. Good Samaritan laws protect you only in emergency situations. Many carriers offer moonlighting policies or part-time malpractice insurance policies at discounted rates, so obtaining additional coverage is generally affordable.
2. Review your employment contract & talk to you administrator
Since moonlighting jobs are in addition to your primary work, you will need to obtain approval from your group/employer before you begin. Take the time to review your employment contract to see if there are any conditions that could affect outside work activity. For example, make sure that you can retain all compensation for your moonlighting. Some contracts state that any remuneration the employee receives from physician offices, facilities or organizations belongs to the employer. Talk to your practice administrator to see what your options are and consider all potential restrictions before taking the time to look for a job.
3. Compare costs + coverage and choose the best malpractice policy for you
As mentioned above, most employed physicians’ malpractice policies are limited to coverage for work done for that employer specifically. For this reason, most moonlighting physicians need to secure a second malpractice insurance policy. It's usually very simple and inexpensive to obtain a moonlighting policy to cover you for work that you do outside of your full-time job. While most insurance policies run for a full year, ask about short-term policy options (which are ideal for assignments that only last a few weeks or months) and part-time policy options. Also consider which policy type is best suited for you – Claims-Made or Occurrence. Remember that Claims-Made coverage requires a tail upon cancellation, so do the math to determine the most cost-effective solution for you.
4. Keep good records
Record-keeping is never a fun task, but it's an important one - especially for moonlighting physicians. Keep record of your outside work activities, including where you worked, what dates you worked, and what malpractice insurance you carried. Ideally, you’ll want to keep a copy of your Certificate of Insurance (or a declaration page) for every malpractice insurance policy you have. While it might seem like a nuisance in the moment, you'll be glad that you kept good records when you need to recall your history for credentialing or report a claim down the road.
If moonlighting is something that you’re considering, be sure to talk to a knowledgeable malpractice insurance agent to help you compare coverage options and find the right fit for your unique situation.