What to Expect (From Your Malpractice Insurance)

As a mom MD looking to take time out of your career making sure that you make the right choices with respect to your medical malpractice insurance coverage is essential.

Physicians who are mothers confront many of the same work-life dilemmas that face other working moms. How to juggle working with issues such as maternity leave, staying at home full time with young children or working part-time to be at home more often for the family. But medical malpractice insurance is a unique problem of physicians.

Choosing the right insurance plan can give you the flexibility of maintaining or suspending coverage while spending time away from your job – whether practicing in a solo, group or corporate environment.

This article discusses the various types of liability coverage available and what are some of the options available to mom MDs.

Types of Liability Coverage – What works best for you?

Medical Malpractice policies are written on either a claims made or occurrence basis. It is important to determine which kind of policy you have in order to make a decision on how to handle your policy.

  • Claims-made: Claims-made coverage is triggered when a claim is made. For example, if a claim is made in 2012, based upon treatment rendered in 2009, the 2012 claims-made policy responds, as long as the healthcare incident occurred after the policy’s retroactive date. (The policy’s retroactive date is the date after which treatment must occur to trigger coverage.)
  • Tail coverage: Because claims-made policies do not cover claims that are made after the termination of the policy, you are required to secure tail coverage. Tail coverage is an extended reporting endorsement on your claims-made policy that will cover reported incidents within the policy period when you move your coverage from one carrier to another or stop practicing.
  • Occurrence: Occurrence coverage is triggered the moment treatment occurs, regardless of when an eventual claim may be made. For example, if a claim is made today based on treatment rendered in 2009, the 2009 occurrence policy will respond. With occurrence policies, there is no tail coverage needed because coverage is rendered whether or not the policy is in force.

Tail coverage is generally expensive. In fact, depending on the state, tail coverage is approximately 140-240% of your current rate. Further, payment for tail coverage is typically due in full and must be paid within 30-60 days of policy cancellation. Some companies will provide payment options up to two years, but the cost can be too much to bear for many doctors.

Whether going on maternity leave, sabbatical, or retiring from practice, these are important decisions that all mom MDs must face. Before you make your decision, there are a couple of options to consider in regards to your malpractice insurance that may have some financial impact.

>>Primer on medical malpractice insurance.

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