Do Locums Pay Their Own Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Do Locums Pay Their Own Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Among the questions most frequently asked by clinicians thinking about going into locum tenens work is whether or not locums pay for their own medical malpractice insurance. The answer is not as easy as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Clinicians have to consider who pays for insurance, what it covers, how long it is in force, and so forth.

Needless to say that malpractice insurance plays a crucial role in defining how the locum operates. As such, it is not something to be taken lightly. The smart locum addresses all insurance concerns before taking a new assignment. He or she also pays attention to the evolution of his/her coverage. Things change, and malpractice insurance has to keep up.

Who Pays for Insurance

There is no hard and fast rule about who pays for medical malpractice insurance. While it is true that growing numbers of staffing agencies are picking up insurance premiums as a way to entice more clinicians to sign on, not every agency does it. Some staffing agencies cover a portion of the insurance costs while others leave it entirely to the clinicians themselves.

As a general rule, agencies that do provide coverage make that coverage active on the first day of the locum’s new assignment. This eliminates insurance provider liability in the event a clinician is sued for actions taken in the closing days of a previous assignment.

All that said, it is up to clinicians to understand the limits of any malpractice coverage provided by a staffing agency such as https://www.tivahealthcare.com/.They need to know when insurance begins and when it ends, which leads to the next consideration: tail coverage.

Who Pays for Tail Coverage

Tail coverage is a supplemental form of medical malpractice to provide additional protection for a certain amount of time following the conclusion of an assignment. It is wise for the locum to have sufficient tail coverage even if he/she has to pay for it him/herself. The last thing the doctor needs is to get sued weeks after an assignment and not have insurance coverage to address it.

Insurance Policy Deductibles

Part and parcel with medical malpractice insurance are deductibles. Let’s say a staffing agency does offer coverage from the first day of an assignment through the end of the third month following the conclusion of that assignment. That’s great. But are there deductibles involved? And if so, how high are those deductibles?

An insurance policy with high enough deductibles might not be worth working under. It might be more beneficial for the locum to buy his or her own insurance and then negotiate higher pay rates to cover it.

Depth and Amount of Coverage

Tying everything together is the depth and amount of coverage provided. A staffing agency offering coverage of up to $1 million per occurrence is in the right ballpark. Though that amount may seem excessive, medical malpractice suits in many states can easily exceed that amount. Many physicians and facilities consider $1 million the starting point.

In terms of the depth of coverage, this usually relates to annual aggregates. An aggregate is the maximum amount an insurance provider will cover in a given year. So at $1 million per occurrence, a provider with a $3 million aggregate would cover only three occurrences paying the maximum amount.

Ask the Questions

The underlying principle here is that locum tenens clinicians should ask as many questions as necessary to understand how medical malpractice insurance applies to any given assignment. Those questions should be asked even if they are tough questions. Only when a clinician fully understands his or her options can a wise choice be made.

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