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Help!!! Malpractice not what I thought it was…


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I accepted a part-time gig at a rehab. During the interview I asked what kind of malpractice insurance is provided and I was told occurrence. I also asked a woman in human resources who told me the same thing. Having good malpractice is very important to me as a new grad. I accepted the job thinking it was a occurrence policy. Like the smart PA that I am, today I asked for a copy of the policy. I noticed that it is an umbrella liability policy that covers the entire rehab. It said a current liability coverage for professional commercial… Which is not medical… then a spot below that that said umbrella liability occurrence… That again I assume covers the entire organization, from therapists to cafeteria workers. And then at the very bottom it specifically says "healthcare professional liability claims made." So from my understanding, it seems like those who are covered under the umbrella in the occurrence policy are everyone but the healthcare professionals, who have claims made coverage only.

 

I admit that I am a little pissed about this. I realize that having to purchase tail coverage is a fact of life, but I would have definitely taken this into consideration when negotiating an hourly rate or even taking the job at all… Because tail coverage can be an enormous expense as you are well know. Thousands of dollars for each of the three years after you leave, correct?

 

What should I do at this point? I don't know if I am being a diva but I almost would need to have a much higher hourly rate or ask that the employer pays for my own separate policy. I just don't know how much bargaining I have as a part timer.

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I just recently pointed out to my employer that our policy was claims made and an umbrella for the health care workers. I contacted the sales agent that the administrator had purchased the policy through and got a lot of "you don't need it while the policy is in effect" bullshart even after explaining that myself and the other provider would need tail coverage and needed to know the cost. He was never able to provide further info. I should report him to the state board of insurance. Bottom line, I got/renewed my own occurrence policy that I had let lapse while with the VA.

 

In your situation you were responsible enough not to take someone's word for it. Others should do the same. Ask them to purchase you an occurrence policy since you were told that that was what they provided. It isn't your fault that they don't know what their talking about. Have them purchase the tail coverage as well since it's their error.

 

 

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Ugh. I agree. I looked over the offer letter I signed (there was no official contract) and there wasn't anything mentioned about malpractice in there. But I know for a fact I was told it was occurrence... Maybe I am a diva but if I had known that before taking the job I probably wouldn't have taken it.

 

It surprises me how little HR knows about this. I've had several offers and no one knows what the heck I am talking about. To them malpractice is malpractice. It makes me think there are few people who actually clarify this... I know that many of my classmates don't know what kind of malpractice they have. My best friend and fellow PA just texted me "I have claims made but don't know what that means." From my research I've found that tail can cost 2-4 times the amount of the premium. That's NUTS.

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You are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You have no physical evidence that such a statement was made on their part with regard to your being provided an occurrence-based policy. Since this is a part-time position as opposed to full-time I could imagine that they may be less willing to comply as opposed to a full-time provider. It all depends on how much they value your work. If they are unwilling to provide such, I see that you have two options. You can either purchase your own occurrence-based policy, or you can walk. First, I would attempt to reach out to their contact representative who provided them the policy and explain the situation to that individual. Hopefully they will be more understanding of the situation than my current employer's representative. At least see about obtaining a quote for what the cost of the tail coverage would be for the time window in which you have been employed there. Depending on your level of responsibility and whether there are any procedures that are performed on your part, as well as your physical location; you may be able to obtain $100,000/300,000 occurrence coverage for as little as $1000 or less annually. My coverage is enough to provide for legal representation to watch my back, and yet low enough to not put a target on my back. In my state we have had tort reform that includes limits on damages making it a less than ideal situation for the attorneys.

 

As an aside, I have found that risk managers, especially in governmental positions, have a poor understanding of medical malpractice liability coverage.

 

 

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If your job provides occurrence, you're fine. If it provides claims made and you leave and you've already seen patients, you would be taking a risk if you did not have tail coverage when you left.

 

Occurrence covers you if you were covered whenever the incident happened. It doesn't matter if someone comes after you in three years and you're no longer with the company or with the insurance -- you're still covered because you WERE under the policy at the time the "incident" happened. Claims made insurance only covers you for past incidents if you're still with the same policy. So if you leave the job (and the policy) OR even if you stay with the job and the employer chooses to switch companies, you are vulnerable and must purchase tail coverage. From what I've read tail coverage costs THOUSANDS. It can be several times what your annual premium is.

 

If you are a new grad, please share this information with your classmates. Out of a class of 25, I'm pretty sure I was the only one that asked about the type of coverage offered and I know for a fact I'm likely the only one who asked for proof of insurance. PROTECT YOURSELF. Malpractice issues happen, even to the best of us. How terrible would you feel if you "thought you were covered" and five years down the road got sued from a patient you saw long ago, and actually had no coverage (or no tail) -- technically they could go after everything you have including your personal assets. It is not worth the risk. Always negotiate for a current coverage, or claims made with tail. Or be prepared to pay for tail on your own. Never go without.

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