How To Purchase Medical Professional Liability Coverage eBook

October 24, 2023

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Deciding where to place your medical professional liability coverage is a decision that can take a lot of time, thought, and research. It can be difficult to know where to begin, what questions to ask, and even who you should be asking.

As a carrier that has been exclusively writing medical professional liability coverage for physicians and facilities for nearly four decades, we are here to explain the process.

While the healthcare professionals we insure are experts in the field of medicine, we have the expertise when it comes to malpractice coverage and are happy to share that knowledge and experience with you so you can make the best decision for your practice.

To help you on your buying journey, here are some common terms, definitions, and questions associated with medical professional liability insurance coverage.

Malpractice Insurance Basics: What to Know

What is Medical Professional Liability Insurance?

Medical Professional Liability (MPL) Insurance (sometimes referred to as malpractice insurance) is insurance coverage to protect doctors and healthcare providers against claims of negligence. Medical negligence is a physician’s failure to meet the standard of care in their treatment of a patient.

MPL coverage should include defense expense costs and indemnity when insureds have been sued for negligence. Defense costs can include legal fees, fees charged by medical experts and reviewers, court fees, among other items. Indemnity is a sum of money paid as compensation on behalf of an insured for actual or potential losses incurred by someone else, typically a patient or patient’s estate.

Most states require healthcare providers to carry MPL insurance coverage to practice, however, some do not. In those states, providers must decide for themselves whether they are comfortable personally carrying the financial risk of a claim, and if they are able and willing to meet the monetary burden if a claim is filed against them. In a world where multi-million-dollar jury verdicts are becoming more and more common, it is a decision that a provider should not take lightly.

What is the difference between a Claims-Made Policy and an Occurrence Policy?
A Claims Made policy generally covers claims reported during the policy period. The coverage in place at the time of the reporting is the coverage that is triggered. An Occurrence policy generally covers claims stemming from incidents that occurred during the policy period, even after that policy is canceled or expires. It is important to understand the differences between the two types of policies, and any variations in terms that a particular policy offers, in order to obtain the most suitable coverage.

What’s an extended reporting period?
An extended reporting period (also known as tail coverage) allows for claims to be reported even after a policy is no longer active. Since malpractice claims tend to have long lag times (i.e., from the time an incident occurs to the incident escalating into a claim and then becoming a lawsuit), extended reporting periods are necessary to ensure you are fully covered and protected from exposure when you have a Claims-Made policy.  

What steps do I need to take with my insurance if I am planning to retire and what happens if a claim is filed after I have left practice?
Tail coverage, also known as an extended reporting period, is a time period allotted for claims to be reported and coverage triggered after the policy has been canceled. Many carriers offer a retirement tail waiver to their long-time insureds. This allows claims to be reported, and coverage to respond, for years following the cancellation of the policy. The time frame that active coverage must be in place to earn a tail varies from carrier to carrier. For example, at Integris, a retirement tail can be earned after three years of consecutive coverage in most of our covered territories.  

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