According to the American Medical Association, 34% of physicians have a claim filed against them for medical malpractice at some point in their careers. While not every state requires insurance, it will give you some peace of mind if one of your patients claims you have injured them.
The process to obtain it can be a bit tricky, as there are many variables you should consider before you purchase it. Here are the five most important things you should know about medical malpractice insurance cost:
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional injures a patient. This problem arises either due to omission or negligence.
A standard of care policy is set in place to prevent this problem from happening. If a medical professional fails to meet the standard of care, their patient can sue them.
What Is Medical Malpractice Insurance?
If the case goes to court, full coverage insurance should help cover the cost of hiring legal defense. It should also include court and settlement fees up to your policy’s limit.
Most insurers will only cover you for negligence or violation of standard care procedures. They will not cover you if the patient sues for sexual misconduct, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while caring for the patient, and criminal acts.
Doctors and nurses aren’t the only types of medical professionals who should acquire medical malpractice insurance. Surgeons, gynecologists, and anesthesiologists are just a few other medical specialties at high risk for negligence.
1. Where You Live Affects Insurance Costs
State laws regarding the minimum liability limits differ around the nation. Most states require that you purchase an insurance plan that meets a specific monetary amount per claim and per aggregate. For instance, Connecticut’s government rules that your insurance should cover at least $500,000 for one person filing one claim and an aggregate of $1.5 million minimum.
When To Get Medical Malpractice Insurance
Depending on where you work, your company might include insurance as part of your benefits. Check to see that you don’t already have coverage before paying for your own.
If you work at a practice that doesn’t provide insurance, you’ll have to look into getting individual insurance. It is best to acquire it as soon as you start working.
A patient can file a claim against you at any time. You don’t want that to happen before you get around to buying insurance.
2. Your Specialty Influences Medical Malpractice Insurance Costs
The cost of your insurance premium also depends on your specialty. It varies based on state.
For example, if you were an OB/GYN living in California during 2019, your premium would be $49,804. However, it would cost you $134,054 if you were living in Connecticut at that same time.
Premium insurance costs are typically lower for general surgeons. They’re even less for internal medicine doctors.
Insurance companies consider the chances that someone in your profession will commit negligence. The higher the risk, the more your premium will cost.
3. Higher Coverage Increases the Cost
There are two types of extra coverage that either come with your insurance plan or that you can add on. These two options prevent you from having a lapse in insurance, leaving you to pay for court and injury costs all by yourself.
The first type is nose coverage. This plan requires your new provider to cover any claims from patients you treated up to five years ago, even though you were using a different provider when the incident happened.
Tail coverage is another option that gives you some leeway if you switch insurance providers and have a claim filed against you from when you were using your previous provider. This one is similar to nose coverage, but instead of your current insurer covering you, your old provider is responsible for handling the claim.
The statute of limitations varies in every state, so you’ll want to base how many years of coverage you would like on that number. For example, in New York, patients typically have two and a half years to file a negligence claim. Therefore, you probably don’t want to purchase nose or tail coverage that extends longer than this unless you had a case where this rule doesn’t apply.
Additionally, before deciding how much coverage you need, consider your assets. If you are about to open a new practice or are new to working in the medical field, you likely won’t need a high coverage plan.
4. Insurance Plan Options
Claims-made plans and occurrence plans are your two options when it comes to choosing an insurance plan. Claims-made means that your insurer will only cover you if you committed negligence and the patient files their claim while you were under their plan. Therefore, if you choose the claims-made policy, you might want to consider purchasing tail coverage as well.
The occurrence plan covers any claims filed against you while you are paying for it. So, if someone files a claim today saying that you committed negligence when you were treating them a year ago, and you were using a different insurance provider, they’ll still help cover your fees.
5. Check Out Different Providers
When a patient looks into buying a supplemental health care plan, like Medigap Plan M, they’re going to compare and contrast their options before settling on one. The same goes for when you are purchasing medical malpractice insurance. Add up both the premium and the deductible costs to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible.
Another part of the insurance policy you need to look for is the “consent-to-settle” clause. Your insurer must ask for your permission before they go ahead and settle the case. They should have reasoning about why this is the best course of action and the risks of going to trial.
If you are looking at using an insurance provider that isn’t in your state, make sure they have attorneys that do. Courts typically require that your attorney practices in the same state where the act of negligence occurred.
Choose a Provider or Ask for Assistance
Since medical malpractice insurance costs vary greatly and choosing a plan is an important decision, the process can start to feel overwhelming for some.
Reaching out to an insurance agent or insurance broker is a smart decision. They will provide you with information about their insurance company’s (or companies’) plans. Additionally, they’ll offer advice about which one seems like the best fit for you.
If you are interested in learning more about negligence claims, read this article. It discusses how COVID-19 is increasing the liability protection states offer to their medical professionals.