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The Basics

What is medical malpractice insurance?

Medical malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance that covers medical providers for allegations of professional negligence related to the services they render to patients.

Do I need medical malpractice insurance?

Requirements and/or limits for medical malpractice insurance coverage vary by state. However, in almost every state, employers and 3rd party payors/insurers requires coverage.

Some Employers Provide Coverage, Some Do Not

It is imperative for a physician, when taking a new position, to find out if you will be required to purchase your own medical malpractice insurance coverage or if it will be provided to you by your employer.

If you are in need of coverage, or would like to know the limits in your state, feel free to contact us.

Should I Just Get the Minimum Level of Coverage?

Most physicians purchase the minimum level of coverage required by their state and/or institution. However, it is important to understand all of the limits associated with your policy and make sure that you feel comfortable with that level of coverage and understand if/when you may be required to pay any additional costs, fees and/or damages above those limits, should you incur a claim.

If you would like to discuss the limits in your state and/or if you should consider additional coverage, give us a call.

What factors influence the cost of my insurance?

Many factors influence the cost of medical malpractice insurance, including:

  • Location
  • Medical Specialty
  • Procedures Performed
  • Years in practice
  • Claims history
  • Regulatory or disciplinary actions
  • Applicable discounts

Should I go with the cheapest coverage? Isn't it all the same?

The cost of medical malpractice insurance coverage can vary widely from company to company, but price should only be one factor in selecting coverage. While we pride ourselves on our low rates, we also pride ourselves on the level of coverage and service we provide our clients — especially in the event of claim.

As a physician-owned company, we understand what it means to go through the claims process and do not take it lightly. When selecting an insurance company, we suggest talking to your peers who have had a claim and asking them how the experience was with their insurance company:

  • Did they have a dedicated claim specialist who walked them through the process and made them feel informed and reassured?
  • Did they have a blanket consent-to-settle clause?
  • Were they treated with compassion and respect?
  • Did their insurance company work to minimize the impact and burden on them?
  • Did they obtain for them a settlement that they were comfortable with?

Other factors to consider when selecting coverage are a company’s financial stability, reputation and longevity. See our Why DDI? page for more information about us.

What discounts are available?

DDI offers discounts for:

  • New-to-practice
  • Claims-free
  • Risk management/CMEs
  • Part-time and quarter-time hours

Unique Circumstances

At DDI, we understand that your practice and your practice situation are unique. That is why we always want to get to know our clients and their practices, so that insurance coverage can be tailored to your needs.

Can I get coverage if I have a claim against me?

Your claim history is very important. However, DDI reviews all submissions on a case-by-case basis. In many cases, a past history with claims is not a disqualifying factor.

Often, if there is a claim history, one of the physicians on our Board of Directors will contact an applicant to get a better understanding of his or her claim situation. Many clients appreciate having a fellow physician help to evaluate the case and we find it helpful in evaluating and understanding the applicant and their situation.

I have a gap in coverage. What should I do?

Depending on your specialty and state, having a gap in coverage can be a serious situation. If a physician were to get sued for servicing a patient during the gap, he or she would not be covered and it could be financially disastrous for the physician.

If you have a gap in coverage, contact us immediately so that we can evaluate and assist you with closing the gap. Depending on the length of the gap period and the situation that led to the gap, DDI may or may not be able to cover you.

I'm changing jobs. What should I do?

First and foremost, consult both your old and new employment agreement so that you know the conditions of both contracts. More than likely, you will be required to purchase a tail policy before you can move on to your new position. Tail policies are expensive —roughly 2 times the expiring premium. You can save thousands of dollars by shopping for a stand alone tail in the secondary market. Check and make sure that your current contract allows you to seek your own separate tail coverage. If so, then contact DDI for a quote.

Second, make sure that you understand if you are required to provide your own med mal coverage for your new position or not. If so, you will want to allow enough time to secure your coverage before your start date. To get coverage, you will need to provide:

  1. start date,
  2. the name of your previous med mal insurance provider,
  3. a claim history report, and
  4. a complete application so that you can qualify for the lowest rate available.

I'm retiring. What should I do? Do you offer tail coverage?

If you know that you will no longer be practicing in any capacity (this includes not doing volunteer work in the US or abroad, locum tenens work and/or part-time work), you will most likely need tail coverage or extended reporting coverage.

If You Are a Current Client

One of the biggest benefits of DDI medical malpractice insurance coverage is the fact that we provide free tails for our clients who meet our criteria. DDI physicians who have had five consecutive years of coverage with us qualify for a FREE tail upon retirement, disability or death. Talk to one of our representatives today to see if you qualify.

What If I’m Not a Current Client?

If you are not currently a DDI client, we would be happy to provide you with a free tail quote for your current coverage. Typically, tails cost 2 times the expiring premium of a medical malpractice insurance policy. However, at DDI we can often save physicians thousands of dollars over their current insurer because of our flexible pricing model.

Our practice is growing. Do I need to let you know that we're adding staff?

Yes. It is imperative that you let your insurance company know of any changes to your practice as they happen. Doing so not only ensures that you continue to have the level of coverage that you and your practice need, but in the case of adding a physician to your practice, we can actually help with the vetting process. When you add a new physician to your policy, DDI will review that physician’s record, history of claims, etc and will let you know of any concerns we may have. Many practices find this to be a reassuring component of the hiring process.

I'm volunteering my medical services. What do I need to know?

There are several things to know when volunteering your medical services in the US or abroad:

  • Know that you most likely won’t be covered under your current medical malpractice insurance policy.
  • Know that you may or may not be covered by “good samaritan” laws, depending on the state, jurisdiction and/or country you are in.
  • You may be covered for medical liability through the organization for which you are working. You should find out.
  • If you are unsure of your coverage, it is imperative that you seek appropriate coverage if necessary.

If you are facing a volunteer opportunity, feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss your options for coverage

Special Types of Medical Malpractice Insurance

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a growing area of practice for many specialties.

Physicians should never assume that they are covered for telemedicine under their current policy and they should always check with their representative before adding such services to their practice.

DDI can offer this type of coverage to most physicians who request it with prior approval. Most often, the additional information needed to add the coverage is: what state the physician is in and what state he or she will be seeing patients in (Note: the physician must be licensed in both states), the situation, estimated number of yearly patient visits, and emergency protocols.

Medical Director

Medical director positions have been growing across the country as medi-spas, urgent care clinics, NP and PA practices have also been growing. Such positions can often be handled with relative ease from both a patient care and administrative perspective for many physicians. Thus, physicians often take on such positions on top of their full-time practice of medicine.

Generally speaking, medical director policies cover physicians for errors and omissions made in the course of his or her supervisory duties.

When considering a medical director position, there are two extremely important things to know, regarding liability coverage:

  • Never assume that you are covered under another medical malpractice insurance policy you may have from another position. Most likely, you will not be covered under your current policy.
  • Medical director policies do not cover a physician for professional services rendered. If you take a position where you will provide patient services (for example, if you’ll be giving Botox or Juvaderm injections), it is imperative that you let your insurance company or agent know and get the proper additional liability coverage.

Contact us today if you would like more information on DDI’s medical director coverage.

Locum Tenens

Locum tenens, roughly translated from the Latin, means "one holding a place."

In Physician Policies

Locum tenens coverage is frequently a provision in a medical malpractice insurance policy that extends the policy coverage to a person substituting in your place for a short period of time.

Not all medical malpractice insurance companies include locum tenens coverage in their policies. However, at DDI, we can provide locum tenens coverage. The policy holder simply needs to contact us and let us know the situation and we will follow up appropriately.

If You’re Considering Locum Tenens Work

Many physicians do locum tenens work for a variety of reasons, including:

  • New physicians who wish to try out several different kinds of positions before picking a permanent one;
  • Physicians currently in practice who would like to try out a new position before changing jobs;
  • Physicians who seek greater work-life balance in terms of more flexibility and/or less responsibility and don’t want the burden of a permanent position;
  • Physicians who are unemployed and need a source of immediate income while job-hunting;
  • Physicians who are near retirement age but don’t want to fully retire, yet don’t want the burden of running a full practice and/or a full-time position.

If you are considering locum tenens work, it is imperative that you find out if you will be covered under the policy of the physician you are substituting for. If not, you will need to seek coverage to make sure you are protected.

If you would like to know more about this policy feature that we provide our clients, or are in need of coverage, give us a call. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Moonlighting

Moonlighting is an informal term often used by physicians to refer to a position that they take on in addition to a full-time position. Many physicians use moonlighting to supplement income and/or help payoff student loan debt.

The most important thing to remember when taking a moonlighting position is to never assume that you are covered under another medical malpractice insurance policy you may have from another position. Most likely, you will not be covered under another policy.

Often, physicians are pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive such policies are. (This is because they are often part-time or quarter-time positions.)

Contact us today if you are considering taking a moonlighting position. We can discuss with you what kind of coverage you may need.

Part-time Positions

At Doctors Direct Insurance, in addition to covering physicians with full-time positions, we also cover physicians who work less than full-time. If you work less than full-time, it is important to let us know, as it can potentially save you thousands of dollars on the cost of your insurance policy

.

At DDI, we offer less than full-time coverage at two different levels:

  • Quarter-time: a physician works 10 hours or less per week
  • Part-time: a physician works 20 hrs or less per week

A physician working more than 20 hrs per week is considered full-time.

Contact us today if you would like to discuss coverage for your part-time or quarter-time position.

Insurance

The State of Medical Malpractice Insurance in Missouri

Insurance

The State of Medical Malpractice Insurance in Illinois

Insurance

The State of Malpractice Insurance in Indiana

Terms to Know

Annual Aggregate Limit

The maximum amount an insurance carrier will pay for all claims that were reported during a given policy year.

Allocated Loss Adjustment Expenses

Expenses directly attributable to the defense of a specific claim. Includes payments for defense attorneys, medical evaluation of patients, expert medical reviews and witnesses, investigation, record copying, etc.

Claim

A written notice, demand, lawsuit, etc., in which a demand is made for recompense.

Claims-made Policy

The most common type of professional liability coverage available, it provides protection for claims that occur after the retroactive date and are reported while the policy is in effect (coverage period). Within the conditions of a claims-made policy, a claim must be reported to the carrier in writing by the insured. Tail coverage provides coverage for claims that occur during the coverage period but are reported after the policy terminates.

Consent-to-Settle Clause

A clause which states that an insurance carrier will not settle a claim without consent from the insured.

Economic Damages

Out-of-pocket damages, such as incurred medical expenses, lost wages, etc. As opposed to non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc.

Hammer Clause

A clause which states that in the event that an insurance carrier settlement, and the insured declines, should the judgement go against the insured, the insured is then responsible for any expenses incurred over the original settlement amount. (DDI does not have this clause in its policy)

Noneconomic Damages

Pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, etc. Damages which cannot be quantified by pecuniary means.

Limit

The maximum amount paid under the terms of a policy. A professional liability insurance policy usually has two limits, a per-claim limit and an annual aggregate limit.

Occurrence Policy

A type of policy in which the insured is covered for any incident that occurs (or occurred) while the policy is (or was) in force, regardless of when the incident is reported or when it becomes a claim. Occurrence insurance for medical liability coverage is rarely offered today because of the difficulty in projecting long-term claims costs under this type of policy.

Tail Coverage

Supplemental insurance which covers incidents that occurred during the active period of a claims-made policy, but are not brought as claims against an insured, nor reported to the insurer, by the time the claims-made policy has been terminated.