At Nexis Medical Offices, we work with my providers who are new to private practice either because they’re just starting out or they are planning to leave a group or agency. One of the first set of questions they ask is whether they need insurance on Day 1, what sorts of insurance products should they look into, and why does Nexis require every Member have coverage. To help answer these questions, we’ve reached out to Michelle Hirsch, SVP, at Brunswick Companies.
Why does a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist, etc. need insurance? Can you provide an example scenario where insurance would come into play and why/how it helps the practitioner in that scenario?
All healthcare providers should have professional liability and general liability insurance and the reason is simple: if a client sues you for malpractice or property damage/personal injury on your premises, the legal costs to defend yourself and your business could put you out of business, even if you aren’t guilty.
For a professional liability example, let’s say a social worker who runs a support group for caregivers decides to write posts on social media to attract more clients. In the posts, she relates some of the stories she heard in the support group. Though she changed the names, one participant recognizes his story and sues the social worker for invasion of privacy. Word starts to spread, and other participants complain to the social worker or demand she not share their stories. The potential for additional lawsuits rises.
Without professional liability insurance, the social worker is responsible for paying all legal fees and settlements on her own and will have to deal with lost wages while she’s in court. Even in cases where healthcare providers aren’t guilty of any wrongdoing, without professional liability insurance they could end up losing thousands of dollars defending themselves to a judge or a review board.
For a general liability example, let’s say a psychiatrist accidentally spills hot coffee on one of their patients. The patient then sues the psychiatrist to cover her medical costs. If the psychiatrist didn’t have general liability insurance, he would have to pay the legal fees and the settlement out of pocket.
Having both professional liability and general liability insurance helps make sure you stay in business during and after an incident like those above and other covered occurrences.
What sort of insurance products would you recommend a behavioral health professional look at? Does this change if they are a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist?
Though insurance carriers might give it their own branded names, the insurance products are called professional liability and general liability insurance. In some instances, both coverages are available as a package. The products are the same regardless of profession, though the recommended limits might be different. Your agent can help you find the right fit for you and your business.
How should they determine the amount of coverage for each product? Does a new practice with a few clients need less coverage than an established practice with a full caseload? What dollar amounts do you recommend?
Coverage amounts will depend on many factors related to the professional and their business as well as requirements from a contract or landlord, and a knowledgeable agent will be able to guide them through making the best choices. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all product here since coverage is often unique to the professional.
What’s the best place to get their insurance policies? Should they go to an agency like Brunswick, or their professional association?
National associations may offer insurance coverage to their members and usually at affordable prices. However, the advantage to working with an agency like Brunswick Companies is that our agents aren’t restricted to only one carrier. We can get quotes from different carriers to ensure you have all the coverage you need and the benefits you want for the best price.
Can you offer estimates for what your recommended coverages would cost a typical provider?
The minimum annual premium on a basic professional liability insurance plan could start under $500. Completing an application for coverage is the best way to get a quote for your specific business.
When is the right time to revisit their policies as their practices change? Who should they talk with for help?
At least 60 days out from your policy renewal date is a good time to reevaluate your insurance needs with your agent. They’ll look at business growth, any claims, and other factors that might affect your premium and get additional quotes if necessary.
The Nexis Member Agreement requires each member name Nexis as an “additional insured” on their policies. What does this mean and why is it important?
Generally speaking, an additional insured is a person or organization included under the insurance policy of another party. This status also guarantees that the additional insured will be notified of changes to the policy, like nonpayment, which could impact contracts. By adding Nexis as a named insured to their policies, members are indemnifying Nexis should a claim occur as well as making sure Nexis is aware of their policy status.
Is there any other advice you would offer someone looking to purchase insurance coverage?
While new professionals may want to save money until they’re better established, purchasing insurance is not a cost to cut. One lawsuit—whether merited or not—could put a professional out of business due to legal fees and lost wages. Brunswick Companies can get multiple quotes form one application, minimizing the paperwork, and our knowledgeable agents can help professionals make the most informed decision about coverage.
For more information or to find out how Nexis can you run a more successful practice, please enter your contact information below, or call us at 216.706.2603.