When you’re working in a permanent healthcare practice, malpractice insurance coverage is a standard concern.
More than one-third of physicians have been sued at least once, with one in five being sued at least twice, according to a survey from the American Medical Association. And suits can be costly, with an average defense cost of $30,000.
So medical professional liability insurance is a must-have for anyone who practices medicine. But how does locum tenens malpractice insurance work, and what do locum tenens need to know?
Physicians who arrange for locum tenens assignments directly with hospitals and other healthcare facilities often must seek out and purchase medical malpractice insurance on their own. The cost and logistics of coordinating your own policy can be daunting, though. It can be overwhelming to determine what is covered, figure out your state’s requirements and negotiate premiums.
When you work with Lucidity as a locum tenens physician, malpractice insurance is provided for you. We maintain the highest-rated locum tenens coverage for providers at all times, and the limits are always sufficient to cover a provider per the state and/or medical facilities requirements. Our mission is to make it worry-free for all of our healthcare providers to have premium coverage and a liaison for communication with the insurance provider if and when there is a claim — at no charge to the locum.
Below is a guide to what you need to know about malpractice insurance as a locum.
How much malpractice insurance costs
The cost may vary depending on factors like:
- State you practice in
- Your medical specialty
- Practice details, like location and hours worked
- Any past malpractice claims and the outcome of those claims
- Your insurance provider
- Your policy’s liability limits
With so many factors, the average cost may vary greatly.
For example: An internal medicine physician practicing in Los Angeles could pay $8,300 in annual premiums, while the same specialty practicing in Miami-Dade, Florida, could pay more than $47,000.
Deductibles can also range anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000.
You can shop around, reaching out directly to insurance companies for quotes or work with a broker to find the best coverage for you.
It’s also a key reason more and more locum tenens physicians choose to work through a staffing agency.
When you work with a reputable agency like Lucidity Direct, one of the major perks is that your compensation package will include malpractice insurance at no extra cost or effort from you.
Claims made vs. occurrence malpractice insurance
Cost is a significant issue, but there are other factors that are important for physicians to consider as well.
For example: What happens if a claim is reported after you have already completed the assignment and the policy has expired?
To answer that, you must first know that there are two types of malpractice coverage: claims-based and occurrence-based.
Claims-made coverage covers incidents reported while the policy is active. You are protected only when the policy is active and you are paying premiums.
Occurrence insurance, on the other hand, covers the locum tenens physician for any claims regarding the time they worked, regardless of when a claim is filed.
For example: Imagine you work a locum tenens position from January to December 2019. A patient alleges malpractice occurred in October 2019 but does not file until spring of 2020, months after the policy expires.
Claims-made coverage would not protect you, because your policy is expired. Occurrence insurance would cover you, because the date the claim is filed does not matter.
That’s why, most physicians prefer occurrence coverage.
Lucidity Direct provides all of its locum tenens physicians with occurrence-based insurance, which means that you are covered for any occurrence that is alleged about your work while on assignment, regardless of when the claim is filed.
Ask about tail insurance
If you do have a claims-made policy, consider additional tail coverage.
In contrast to a standard policy, tail coverage provides protection if any claims are filed after your policy is expired or canceled.
Tails come with an additional premium and can be purchased in a range of time lengths, from a few months to an unlimited period.
It’s important to note that tail coverage applies only to incidents that happened during the original policy period and may also have a different limit of liability.
Coverage for locum tenens physicians at your assigned location
If you negotiate your own malpractice insurance directly, make sure it meets any applicable state laws and applies specifically to locum tenens work.
Laws surrounding medical malpractice may also vary by state. Variations include if insurance is required for your specialty and if there is a minimum carrying requirement.
Some healthcare providers also exclude locum tenens contracts.
Questions to consider if you pursue your own malpractice insurance
When negotiating malpractice insurance, here are key questions to ask:
- What are the limits of liability?
- What is excluded from coverage?
- What is the annual premium you will pay?
- What is the deductible?
- What is the financial strength and rating of the insurance carrier?
- Does the carrier provide coverage in the state you will be practicing?
- Does the state you are working in require a minimum level of insurance?
- Does the insurance provider have experience in your specialty?
- What type of malpractice insurance is this — occurrence-based or claims-made? Does the policy have a deductible provision?
Again, when you choose Lucidity, we take care of all this for you. For any specific questions, or to inquire about open positions with us, click here.