One of the most common questions physicians and their office managers ask is whether their Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants are covered by their Medical Malpractice Insurance. This is a good question to ask because you cannot assume that all policies will cover these mid-level providers, and you need to make sure coverage is in place. There are several options for coverage, depending on the medical malpractice insurance company and the type of policy you have.
The simplest way to cover an NP or PA is to add them as an Additional Insured on the physician’s policy with a shared liability limit. This is a very common way to provide coverage, most insurance companies will agree to this, and it usually doesn’t cost an extra premium. This type of arrangement works well when there is supervision and a good relationship between the doctor and the NP. However, the downside to it is that there is only one liability limit shared between the doctor and the NP. In a small practice, it may not be an issue, but if there are multiple providers and a corporation involved, a shared limit isn’t advisable. And if the NP leaves the practice, there is no tail coverage available to purchase, so the NP or PA may be left wondering what will happen if a medical malpractice claim is filed after their departure.
Another way to accomplish coverage for ancillary healthcare professionals is by adding them as a Named Insured on the policy with a separate limit of liability for each provider. This is also commonly done, but it typically costs an additional premium. The advantage to this is that if the NP or PA leaves the practice, they have the opportunity to buy tail coverage. Make sure that this arrangement is spelled out in the employment contract. Whose responsibility is it to purchase the tail? The owner, the supervising physician? Or the provider themselves? The tail coverage, no matter who pays for it, gives everyone peace of mind knowing that if a claim arises after that employee has left, it will be covered by the medical malpractice insurance company.
Shouldn’t an NP or PA have their own coverage that they can take with them if they leave the practice? With the amount of turnover in healthcare these days, requiring employed mid-levels to have their own medical malpractice insurance is a good option to consider. Typically, NPs and PAs, and other healthcare professionals can get their own occurrence policy for around $2,000, depending on the city and state of practice. Whether you pay for the policy for them or require they pay it themselves, is up to each practice to decide. The policy needs to include vicarious liability coverage for the entity or corporation, which is easy to do and shouldn’t cost anything. The advantage of a separate, independent policy is that when the NP leaves the practice, they can take it with them, and there is no need to buy a tail. This is especially helpful for practices with a lot of turnovers. The practice is better protected this way too because they have their own liability limit.
If your practice includes or plans to hire ancillary healthcare providers, make sure they are covered through medical malpractice insurance that protects them, your practice, and your patients. eQuoteMD can help guide you to the best coverage at the best rate for any specialty in any state.