So why should you purchase medical malpractice insurance? Here are a few simple but compelling reasons why it just makes sense:
- It’s required to obtain hospital visiting privileges and/or to practice under some healthcare networks.
- It protects both your medical business—your livelihood—as well as your personal finances.
- It covers your legal costs even if a claim is dropped or settled.
- It covers legal fees and other items that may not be covered by your employer’s insurance.
- It may protect you against a claim filed against you while you were at a prior position.
- It covers any lost wages if you cannot practice medicine while fighting a lawsuit.
- It offers peace of mind!
The fact is, even the best doctors can be sued by a patient seeking to blame someone for a negative outcome to treatment. A majority of physicians will find themselves facing a lawsuit at some point; this is especially true for specialists such as surgeons and obstetricians. And just one lawsuit can be devastating, threatening your personal, professional, and financial security.
What Should Your Medical Malpractice Insurance Cover?
A comprehensive malpractice insurance policy should provide you and your medical practice with financial protection should a client or a patient file a lawsuit against you. Unfortunately, no matter how spurious the claim, however clear it may be that the patient is simply seeking to air a grievance or find someone to blame, you still have to deal with legal fees relating to the lawsuit and may potentially even have to pay out a settlement. Here are a few things to think about when purchasing a malpractice policy:
- Claims-made coverage: Most malpractice insurance policies are so-called “claims-made”, which means that the policy must be active BOTH when the alleged incident occurred AND when the claim is filed. Thus, it is important to either carry a personal malpractice policy that follows you through multiple practices and/or keep a policy for the duration of your business’s lifetime.
- Tails and Prior Acts: “Tail” and/or “prior acts” insurance offers protection in case of coverage gaps in a claims-made policy. “Tail” coverage will enable you to continue to report a claim made against you while you were covered under a prior policy, while “prior acts” coverage protects you retroactively, for events that may have occurred but not yet been reported. This additional level of coverage may not be necessary if you carry a personal malpractice insurance policy that follows you through every job change.
- Limits and Deductibles: As with every insurance policy, it is critical to know both the limits of your coverage and any deductibles you are responsible for. Malpractice insurance usually has two different limits: per occurrence and overall aggregate. The former is what your policy will cover per incident; the latter is what your policy will cover during the policy period.
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