Understanding Insurance Issues

Choosing Medical Malpractice Coverage

As a new doctor branching out into your own practice for the first time, you're probably trying to get all of the details in order. One of the things that you need to secure right away is medical malpractice insurance. If you've never dealt with malpractice insurance before, you may not know where to start. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when you start shopping for a policy.

1. Understand the Terms

Before you can choose a policy, you need to familiarize yourself with the policy terms used specifically in medical malpractice insurance. For example, carriers are specifically defined by terms related to whether or not your policy is guaranteed by the state. This is important to understand because your policy might be protected if your insurer should file bankruptcy.

In addition, there are terms related to settlement options. Some policies permit your malpractice insurer to settle claims without your consent while other policies require that you consent to any settlement before it is made. There are also terms related to digital breach protection and clauses that require you to agree to settlements regardless of your personal opinion.

2. Know Your Coverage

Medical malpractice insurance varies from carrier to carrier and from policy to policy. You need to be sure that you understand exactly what your policy does and does not cover to ensure that you're choosing the right coverage for your needs. Ask to look at policy declaration documents before you commit to any insurance plan. That way, you can compare policies and premiums based on the actual coverage instead of assumptions of what you think it should include.

You also need to consider how long coverage will be provided. If your insurance carrier only covers claims made while the policy is in force, any claims filed by patients later won't be covered. Since the average patient can wait more than a year before filing a claim, it's important to consider a policy that will cover claims for insured periods regardless of the date that the patient files the claim.

3. Work with an Agent

If you want to be sure that the policy you choose truly meets your needs, you shouldn't try to choose it on your own. Work with a medical malpractice insurance agent who can help you to evaluate your needs and find coverage that meets those needs. Agents have access to a variety of policies and can help you understand the terminology and coverage limits of each one.