The ancient Hippocratic Oath has undergone many revisions over the years, yet its basic principles remain constant. And while physicians may strive to uphold these tenets and provide the best possible care to their patients, it’s nearly impossible not to come across a disgruntled patient on occasion. Healthcare liability insurance is an inescapable component of modern medicine. Whether you’re a new resident or you’re a veteran thinking about transitioning to another practice, it is well worth your time to brush up on the basics of medical malpractice insurance . When evaluating affordable malpractice insurance in Palm Beach, consider the following factors.
Selecting a Medical Malpractice Insurer
Medical malpractice insurance companies are not all alike. Physicians generally prefer to choose an insurer that has plenty of industry experience. When you choose a company that has provided med-mal policies for several decades, you can rest assured that their customer service representatives are highly knowledgeable and can provide you with a comprehensive yet affordable medical malpractice insurance policy.
Deciding Between Claims Made and Occurrence Coverage
Many healthcare providers choose occurrence policies because they provide the most comprehensive coverage for a particular policy term. In fact, whether or not a practice’s coverage is occurrence coverage may play a significant role in determining whether to accept a particular position. With occurrence coverage, a physician is covered for all claims that arise from incidents that occurred during the policy term, regardless of when the claim is filed. This means that if you had occurrence coverage from 2011 to 2014, the policy will cover a medical malpractice claim based on a 2013 incident even if it was not filed until 2015. In contrast, claims made policies only provide coverage for as long as the policy is active.
Purchasing an Extended Reporting Endorsement
Even if you do choose to purchase claims made coverage, you can give yourself extra protection by purchasing an extended reporting endorsement, or tail. A tail may be purchased shortly after the cancellation of the claims made policy. It enables the insured physician to report claims despite the cancellation of the policy.
Often, physicians are responsible for purchasing their own healthcare liability insurance, which is one reason why so many have considered applying for locum tenens positions. With a locum tenens position, the placement company is almost always responsible for providing locum tenens insurance in Palm Beach. In some cases, the healthcare facility that is engaging the locum tenens provides the coverage. If you’re considering applying to a locum tenens company, it’s imperative to read the fine print before you sign any agreement. Not only will you need to make sure that you understand the terms of your engagement, your cancellation clause, and other provisions, but you must also make sure that the placement agency provides exceptional locum tenens insurance .
Understanding Claims-Made Coverage
Locum tenens placement companies often offer claims-made hospital malpractice insurance. These policies provide coverage for physicians in the event that an incident both occurred and was reported within the active period. This means that if the policy extends to February 1, 2015 and an incident was not reported until February 2, 2015, coverage is not provided. Generally, claims-made coverage is somewhat riskier for locum tenens physicians, given the short-term duration of the engagement and given that the placement agency, not the physician, is in control of the policy renewal.
Evaluating Occurrence-Made Coverage
Many locum tenens physicians prefer to apply to placement agencies that offer occurrence-made coverage, which provides more comprehensive protection. With this type of locum tenens insurance, the physician is covered for all alleged incidents that occurred within the active period of the policy, regardless of when the claim is filed. This means that even if the healthcare liability insurance coverage expires on June 1, 2015, and an incident that occurred months earlier is not reported until June 1, 2016, the policy still provides coverage.
Purchasing “Tail” Insurance
Even when a locum tenens placement agency provides claims-made coverage, physicians can obtain additional protection if the contract includes a provision for the purchase of “tail” insurance. Purchasing “tail” insurance with a coverage period of at least two years is preferable, given that the typical medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years.
Tens of thousands of medical malpractice claims are filed each year in the U.S. While no physician likes to think that he or she will be named as a defendant at some point, in today’s litigious society, it’s entirely possible. Comprehensive healthcare liability insurance is an absolute must for all practitioners. When evaluating medical malpractice insurance companies near Palm Beach, the following questions may arise.
Why Should Physicians Purchase Their Own Liability Coverage?
In some cases, having healthcare liability insurance through the hospital or facility is sufficient. However, you may wish to purchase additional coverage for yourself, depending on a number of factors. First, given the likelihood of a claim occurring at some point during your career, it only makes sense to protect yourself with affordable malpractice insurance that goes above and beyond what your hospital offers. Second, you may want to change employers at some point or your current facility may close, in which case having your own policy offers portability. And third, the coverage your hospital offers may provide inadequate coverage.
How Should I Choose an Insurance Company?
It’s a good idea to choose an independent agency that specializes in medical malpractice insurance. Select an agency that is well established in the field, such as one that has been in business for at least a couple of decades. Your agency should work with financially stable carriers with top ratings.
What Will My Policy Cover?
The answer to this question varies depending on your particular policy. There are different types of coverage options, such as claims-made and “tail” coverage. It’s always a good idea to read a policy before purchasing it or to have an attorney help you understand it. Generally, healthcare liability insurance will cover settlements, damages, and court costs.
What Information May be Reported?
In the event that a claim is filed against you and your healthcare liability insurance company makes a payment to the plaintiff, the insurance company is required to report the payment to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
What are Policy Limits?
You’ll notice that your insurance policy has an individual limit and an aggregate limit. The individual limit is the maximum amount that will be paid for any particular claim. The aggregate limit is the maximum payout for all of the claims within the term of the policy.