Medical Malpractice News

Purchasing Medical Liability Insurance for Physician Groups

Tags: | Comments: 2 | May 2nd, 2011

Over the years, physician medical practices have applied the economies of scale concept to their overhead, inclusive of the purchase of medical liability insurance.  While the task is a large one, the benefits can be fairly dramatic.  Many of the groups we work with make it a regular practice to survey the medical malpractice insurance market to explore options and maximize their buying power.

Some of the prime considerations to be aware of include coverage for ancillary personnel. Ancillary staff includes registered nurses, medical assistants, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, CRNA’s, medical techs and others. Ancillary staff plays an important role in delivering medical care to patients for physician groups. Most medical liability insurance companies cover RN’s and medical assistants at no additional premium, however many of them charge a premium to cover physicians assistants and nurse practitioners. Some medical liability insurance companies offer coverage for physician assistants and nurse practitioners, at no additional charge by listing the insured’s under the separate corporate limit of liability.

Credits Toward Extended Reporting Endorsements

Another common way groups can use their leverage for medical malpractice insurance to get credit towards extended reporting endorsements (commonly referred to as tail coverage). Many groups have physicians who are at or near retirement. Most medical malpractice insurance policies offer free tail coverage to physicians who have been with the medical liability insurance carrier for five continuous years and are over the age of 55. However if the group switches their medical liability insurance to another medical liability insurance carrier, the five year period would start over. Groups can use their leverage to get free tail coverage for their doctors who are near retirement. This is not a given, but can be negotiated.

It is important that groups keep a record of physicians and ancillary staff who have departed from their group. It is important that the corporation policy with the new medical malpractice insurance carrier cover the corporation for the acts of physicians who have left the group. There are also several different ways groups can have vicarious liability. This needs to be address in detail with the new medical malpractice insurance carrier to insure that the corporation is properly covered upon switching. In addition to keeping a record of physicians who have departed, groups need to also keep a record of claims and incidents. The new medical malpractice insurance carrier will require the information about all incidents that have occurred whether they have been reported to the group’s current medical liability insurance company. It is very important that groups do this so that there is no risk of the new medical liability insurance company denying a future incident that could turn into a claim.

Application Process for Physician Group Medical Malpractice Insurance

While no one likes the process of completing new applications with the same old information, this is usually an end point in the process of exploration.  Many of the medical malpractice insurance carriers that we work with are willing to look at a spreadsheet that includes physician names, limits of liability, and retro active dates; information and loss runs (formal statements/inventories) of claims and incidents from previous medical malpractice insurance carriers as a starting point to provide competitive coverage options.  Once this pre-qualifier has taken place, the group will have a better idea of the possibility of competitiveness from the new medical liability insurance carrier.  Many medical liability insurance carriers will assist in the process of pre-loading the standard application for the physician/group and facilitation of much of the other administrative work as well.

Group medical malpractice insurance coverage is complex and requires an expert to make sure that the physicians and ancillary staff is properly covered for their medical malpractice risk.


2 thoughts on “Purchasing Medical Liability Insurance for Physician Groups

  1. colleen fusetti

    am interested in learning how to retroactively cover a new physicians assistant. He was with our practice for four months (new grad) and we just realized the assistant did not convert our policy to cover hin and didnt buy new one. we are now being told there is nothing we can do to retroactively cover him. Is this accurate?

  2. Jeff H

    Hi Colleen, the concern that the carrier obviously has is no coverage has been in place and a gap exists and incidents may be waiting. Sometimes we have been successful in getting our carriers to accept a “No Known Claims” letter that has the provider formally, in writing, declare that he/she is not aware of anything that has happened since he/she started and exclude anything that has, but otherwise cover the time gap. My other thought is that the supervising physician is going to be named most likely, as he will have limits in place. I would be happy to explore other options for you if you would like?

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