Medical malpractice insurance (also known as medical professional liability insurance) serves as protection for physicians against allegations of negligence that may have resulted in injuries to a patient. This insurance is extremely useful to nurses, doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals. Most states require medical providers to purchase medical malpractice insurance. These insurance policies usually pay the bulk of the settlement or judgement in favor of the plaintiff (the injured patient who brought a claim). If, in doubt, consult an attorney regarding potential medical malpractice claims.
Medical Malpractice Insurance Types
Often, medical malpractice cases may arise multiple years after the negligence occurred. Whether the insurance will cover the claim depends on the policy type. Some policy types cover claims even after the policy ended. Other policy types do not cover claims initiated post the policy termination date, even if the negligent act itself occurred when the policy was still active.
Most insurance coverage for medical malpractice cases are Claims-Made Policies. This type of policy covers a medical provider when a claim is both in effect and reported to the insurer while the policy is active. Claims brought up any time after the policy ends are considered expired unless tail coverage was purchased. Most policies have a retroactive date. Claims must be brought up on or after the retroactive date for one to be covered by the policy. Claims that are brought up prior to the date are not covered. For example, if a doctor covered through August 2020 commits malpractice in June 2020, but the case is not presented until February 2021, he or she would need tail coverage to be insured.
An occurrence policy covers the insured for any incident that occurred during the policy’s term. It doesn’t matter if the policy is active when the claim is reported. It only matters that the policy was active when the alleged incident occurred. The main difference between a claims-made policy and an occurrence policy is that in an occurrence policy even if you cancel your policy at some future date, you will still have coverage for events that occurred while the policy was in effect, but in a claims-made policy you will only be covered while the policy is still in effect. Occurrence policies serve as coverage for the life of the physician. This policy remains enforced even if the physician changes jobs or locations. For example, if someone is injured in June of 2019, and the policy ends in August of 2019, and the claim is brought in February of 2020, because the negligent act occurred during the period the policy was active, the doctor would still be covered.
Vicarious liability (also known as imputed liability) is a legal term that focuses on liability that one sustains on behalf of someone else’s acts or omissions. For those physicians that have a joint practice with other medical care providers, vicarious liability is an important consideration. The owner or the person in charge of the medical practice can be vicariously liable for all or most of the patients who visit the practice, regardless of who treated them. If the medical providers or employees at the practice are named in the medical malpractice claim, the medical malpractice insurance will provide coverage for those that insurance is available.The head doctor or owner of the medical practice may have vicarious liability insurance. If they do, then all the other medical care providers at that practice will also be covered for any potential claims that should arise as a result of their negligence or omissions. To further delve into the different aspects of vicarious liability and medical malpractice insurance, contact an attorney today!