Have you ever wondered if you should get additional malpractice insurance as a nurse practitioner? Although you may be covered under your employer’s insurance, it helps to take a step back and evaluate whether you need more comprehensive coverage. In the event of any claims associated with negligence, this will give you peace of mind that your career and financial interests are well protected.
In this article, you can find out more about why malpractice insurance is so important as well as the two main types of malpractice insurance for nurse practitioners.
Understanding the Importance of Nurse Practitioner Malpractice Insurance
Whether you have just embarked on your career or have been a nurse practitioner for years, you may now be contemplating getting malpractice insurance beyond what your employer provides. This is also known as professional indemnity insurance or professional liability insurance. Getting your own policy is a good idea for many reasons, especially if you engage in work outside of your main place of employment.
As a NP, not only do you provide patient care, you also interact extensively with your patients during the time they are with you. Throughout the course of your patient-provider relationship, many different things could go wrong, and a patient could bring a claim, such as a failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosis. When a patient brings a claim against you, you will need malpractice insurance in order to avoid paying a generous sum out of pocket and to protect your professional reputation.
Just like with any other type of insurance you purchase, the most important thing is to consider the level of risk you are exposed to, and in light of that, whether it is worth paying for coverage, and if so, how much would be adequate. Keep in mind that with malpractice insurance, you are not just protecting your financial interests, but your career which can be impossible to put a price tag on.
Main Types of Malpractice Insurance for Nurse Practitioners
Now that you have decided getting malpractice insurance is a good idea, you may be wondering about the different types available. There are two main types of malpractice insurance for NP coverage. This includes claims-made policies and occurrence policies.
- Claims-Made Policies
Claims-made policies offer coverage for incidents that occurred during the validity period of that insurance policy. This means that you must still be actively paying for your policy when the incident occurred and when the claim was made. If you stop paying for your policy and a patient files a claim against you, you will not be covered even if the incident occurred during the period your policy was active.
- Occurrence Policies
With an occurrence policy, you are covered as long as the claim is filed during the period when the policy is active. This means that even if your coverage has ended recently but the incident occurred while it was active, you will still be covered.
If you are leaving your current position and are starting a new one soon, you may wish to purchase tail coverage to ensure that you are protected during this transitional period. Take note that tail coverage can only be purchased after a policy has been terminated, and it simply extends the validity period of the benefits you were entitled to. This can be added on to a claims-made policy, and if you find yourself in this position, you may want to discuss with your employer your options for purchasing tail coverage, or whether they will provide that for you.
The type of malpractice insurance coverage you should purchase depends on your needs, the requirements of the state you are practicing in, as well as what your employer is already providing. You may decide to get a policy to supplement your employer’s coverage, to ensure that you are covered while in between jobs, or to cover any activities you take part in outside of your workplace.
Should Nurse Practitioners Solely Depend on their Employer’s Insurance?
You may be wondering, if your employer already provides malpractice insurance coverage, why do you need to get an additional policy? While it is true that most employers provide claims-made insurance for NPs, you most certainly stand to lose this coverage when you change employers. Although you will be covered by your new employer’s policy, this may not start at once and may not extend to incidents that occurred while you were not working for them. Despite this, there is a possibility that claims could be filed against you during this transitional period where your coverage is neither here nor there, which is where you must be extra careful.
Upon terminating your employment contract, your coverage under that employer’s insurance policy ends too. Chances are your new employment contract will not start on the exact day your current one ends, and even if it does, you are unlikely to be covered for incidents that occurred while you were not working for that employer. It is recommended to purchase tail coverage that lasts the duration of the statute of limitations in which cases can be filed against you.
Even if you are not in between jobs, getting a supplementary coverage policy can help to ensure that you are well protected against all eventualities. You will want to keep in mind that most of the time, policies provided by your employer do not cover additional costs such as lost wages and attorney’s fees. You also need to account for any incidents that may occur while you are off duty, whether you have a side gig or engage in volunteering activities. In addition, the coverage amount under your employer’s policy may not be high enough to cover you and any others involved in any specific case that may be brought up.
Another good reason to get your own malpractice insurance is that your employer may not cover disciplinary actions. In the event of a case being launched against you, this means that your employer and their insurance provider will have the right to decide on the course of action to take in resolving it, and you will have no say. Clearly, this is a situation no one wishes to find themselves in.
Therefore, if you are wondering whether you should solely depend on your employer’s insurance, the short answer is NO. Regardless of your practice environment or specialty, having comprehensive malpractice insurance is critical, and most of the time, you cannot afford to solely depend on your employer’s policy.
Which Type of NP Malpractice Insurance Coverage is Right for You?
To determine which type of malpractice insurance coverage is right for you, there are a few factors to consider. These include:
- The type of coverage already provided by your employer
- If you engage in any work outside of your current employer whether that is through volunteering or a side gig
- Where you work — did you know that hospitals and emergency rooms report significantly lower numbers of claims than private practices? While every NP should make sure to get malpractice insurance, the coverage you will reasonably require can differ based on where you work.
- Your specialization — the vast majority of claims take place within four specialties: mental health, family practice, gerontology and primary care. Of course, this does not mean that you should not get malpractice insurance if you work outside of a particular specialty. It simply means that the coverage amount that makes the most sense for your needs will be different.
Regardless of the type and amount of coverage that will work best for you, getting your own malpractice insurance is important and can be classified as a must for all NPs. It’s essential for you to be able to tailor your level of coverage to your individual needs which is often not possible under your employer’s policy.
By taking out your own policy, you are taking a vital first step towards protecting yourself from liability claims that may pop up throughout the course of your career. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with your employer’s policy as well as the laws in your state(s) of practice. This way, you will be able to determine with confidence that the coverage you are getting is comprehensive enough for your needs.
Resources Available to NPs
We understand that the process of getting your own malpractice insurance can be confusing, and you may be looking to seek professional advice in this area. Thankfully, there are many resources available to NPs who are searching for the best option. Below is a list of resources you can check out:
- Professional Liability Insurance: Are you looking to purchase your malpractice insurance policy from a reputable provider? Check out this resource for many good reasons for why you should get your own policy outside of what your employer provides and apply instantly. All association members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) are eligible to apply.
- Employment Negotiations: As a NP, your salary is not the only thing you need to negotiate when starting a new position. You will also need to take into account the scope of services you are expected to provide and the benefits you can expect to enjoy which includes good malpractice insurance coverage. Do not be afraid to ask for more details of this policy and negotiate for higher coverage if necessary. It is important to ensure that you will not be expected to perform any duties beyond the scope of your practice and check whether there are any regulations that are more stringent than those required by your state laws.
- What You Need to Know About NP Practice in Your State: Depending on the state you are practicing in, there may be different requirements you need to fulfill. This includes knowing who your signature authority is as well as the number of continuing education hours required to obtain licensure. If you have just moved from one state to another or plan to practice in multiple states, you may not yet be familiar with the requirements in your new state, and this resource will spell out everything you need to know.
The above resources should be a good starting point for you to get the information you need. You may already have an estimate of how much coverage you should expect to get under a malpractice insurance policy, but do not be afraid to speak to an insurance provider who has your best interests in mind. Once you are ready to purchase malpractice insurance that will suit your needs, you will have taken the all-important first step towards protecting your career and professional reputation!
Let Collaborating Docs Help You Match with a Supporting Physician
There are many things you need to get done as a NP. Ensuring that you have adequate malpractice insurance coverage is one of them. Amidst everything you have on your plate, you may be looking for a quick and easy way to match with the collaborating physician you need. Admittedly, this process can be tedious and time-consuming, as it does not just stop with finding a physician who is willing and able to collaborate with you. You will also have to draft a collaborative practice agreement that holds up legally and ensures that your collaborative partnership abides by state-specific requirements.
When you trust us at Collaborating Docs, we make this process quick and easy for you. Our promise to you is that you will be matched with a collaborating physician within 14 days or less, or we will give you a full refund. You are welcome to check out our client testimonials and find out exactly what we can do for you. Once you are ready, please feel free to request a free personalized quote, and we will get started on matching you up right away!