By Dan Reale
Many medical professionals neglect to have a regular check-up on their malpractice insurance. A check-up can be accomplished in a very short period of time, requires no office visit, and no fee should be charged for the service. Malpractice insurance is often misunderstood – and many feel that “if it is not broke, then why bother fixing it?” Mistakes with your malpractice coverage could cost you in real premium dollars, along with valuable time and stress over the long term. Having a malpractice-insurance check-up will reveal any ailments that can harm you financially and provide the necessary prescription to achieve optimum insurance health.
Nearly every licensed practitioner has experienced dropping malpractice premiums over the past six years due to the insurance markets’ downward premium cycle. Physicians who have had regular insurance check-ups have benefited the most, with premium savings during this time. Those who did not bother with check-ups have missed out on the maximum savings. The bottom line is that having regular insurance check-ups will help you avoid paying too much and can identify gaps in coverage that can cause real financial ailments over time. This especially important now, since nearly every insurance expert believes that this downward trend is about to end.
A regular check-up is also important because we often fail to recognize the small changes that tend to happen normally over time. This may include subtle changes within the medical practice, such as adding new employees or implementing new procedures. Maybe the practice is growing or you have actually reached a time when you are looking forward to a well-earned retirement. These changes also occur within each malpractice insurer and the overall insurance marketplace, where change is constant. Below are some of the more-common malpractice-insurance factors that medical professionals must consider with regard to the health of their malpractice coverage.
Ability to Defend – This is arguably the most important factor to consider when purchasing your malpractice coverage. Do you know your insurance carrier’s financial strength, experience, and track record for defending doctors? Remember that some claims can drag on for years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend, so you want to make sure your insurer is financially able, willing, and experienced enough to defend you properly.
Policy Coverage – How do your policy’s important features compare with features of other, similar companies? This can range from the policy claim trigger, any defense limitations, deductibles, tail coverage, coverage extensions for the Florida Department of Health complaints, HIPPA, Medicare/Medicaid, cybercoverage, etc. How are the practice entity and employees protected under the policy? How does your premium rate compare with rates of other, comparable malpractice companies?
Limits of Coverage – Have you compared your premium cost for various levels of liability coverage? Is there an ability to “stack” liability limits of coverage and how will this benefit you?
Discounts and Credits – Each malpractice carrier has its own interest in particular medical specialties and practice locations. They often will arrange special program credits and discounts to attract the type of practices that will suit them best. It is important to shop and compare your coverage and premium cost each year because insurance markets have cycles that are always changing.
Having a Trusted Advisor – As you can see, there are many complex factors to consider when making such an important decision as purchasing your malpractice insurance. An “independent” malpractice insurance specialist can help you to navigate any changes within your practice, as well as outside it, and in the always-changing insurance markets.
Finally, have regular insurance check-ups only with an experienced, independent malpractice specialist in order to keep your insurance health in top condition. A malpractice specialist will be more of an educator who is experienced with the overall marketplace. Avoid all the gimmicks and sales representatives that are simply trying to sell you an insurance product. The malpractice specialist will have many references and testimonials that they can provide to demonstrate how they have cured many real insurance ailments for their physician clients. The independent malpractice specialist will always place the physician’s interest over any company or product available in the market.