Quick Guide to Medical Malpractice and Professional Liability Insurance  

Quick Guide to Medical Malpractice and Professional Liability Insurance

Medical malpractice insurance exists to protect doctors from the ill effects of lawsuits against them. Malpractice occurs when a doctor or other health care provider performs an act or omission that deviates from the usual standards of the medical community and causes some sort of injury to the patient. This includes professional negligence and other acts. Even nurses and other non-physicians are not exempt from malpractice suits when following incorrect orders given by a doctor. Under most laws, they are liable for malpractice.

Medical malpractice suits have increased in frequency in recent years, both in cases of actual malpractice and in wrongful suits. Legal expenditures to defend themselves against these suits, as well as the time spent, can be difficult for doctors to afford. Medical malpractice, or more generally, professional liability insurance, can help to cover these fees. When a suit is settled in favor of the plaintiff, the insurance pays the amount of the settlement. When the suit has been wrongfully filed and settled in favor of the defendant, the insurance can help to cover the medical practitioner’s legal fees. The cost of medical malpractice litigation in the United States has increased over ten percent a year since the mid-1970s. In 1999, awards granted in medical liability cases increased forty-three percent.

Because of all these things, it’s important for medical professionals to maintain professional liability insurance. If you already have professional liability insurance be sure to start your renewal process early. You should gather information as much as six months in advance to keep your coverage from lapsing. A suit which occurs during a gap in coverage may not be paid by your insurance. It’s also good to look for a renewal date other than January or July 1, because this is when the health care schools tend to graduate their students, flooding the insurer with renewals.

Be sure to provide your agent with as much information as you can about your situation. You should preferably do this four months in advance of your renewal date, if not earlier. When nearing retirement or leaving a practice, make sure that you have tail coverage with a good professional liability insurance provider. Tail coverage means that if a suit is filed after your regular medical malpractice insurance stops covering you, you will still be insured. This coverage is important to keep you from being stuck with legal fees in the advent of a late malpractice suit.

Professional liability insurance is a must for all medical practitioners, whether they are physicians or not. Even when not legally required, this insurance is necessary to protect you from frivolous lawsuits and other legal problems that could be associated with your practice. Be sure to carry a reasonable amount of coverage. If you are having trouble finding rates that will be acceptable to you and feel that you need to carry more risk to afford your insurance premiums, make this risk in the form of higher deductibles. Be sure to check with any hospitals you are associated to be sure this is acceptable, however.



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