Physician Malpractice Insurance

Physician malpractice insurance, also referred to as medical malpractice insurance, is a form of professional liability insurance. It provides protection for physicians in the event of a lawsuit for negligence while caring for a patient. The insurance provides money to pay damages based on the coverage amount. It also covers the legal representation to fight the claims or settle cases. You can buy a policy sold by a mutual company owned by other doctors, or from an insurance company that sells malpractice insurance.

State Mandated Insurance

Most states require practicing physicians to carry malpractice insurance. There are a few states that do not force doctors to carry insurance, but it may be difficult for you to practice without it. For example, if you're a doctor who wants to care for patients if they end up in a hospital setting, you may find it nearly impossible to do so without buying physician malpractice insurance. As long as you stay in your own private practice, then you can avoid buying insurance. You're taking a huge risk though, due to the amount of lawsuits filed in civil courts against physicians on a yearly basis. It is wise to buy insurance above and beyond what state laws may require.

Claims Defense

Physician malpractice insurance offers participating doctors the legal representation you need when claims are brought against you by patients. The major advantage is that you don't have to worry about finding and paying for your own attorneys. The insurance company will provide attorneys on your behalf, who are experienced in fighting claims in medical malpractice lawsuits. The only drawback is that the insurance company may decide to settle the case, and has the power to do so if you accept its legal representation. You have little control over the case. Some companies provide a more aggressive legal defense than others, and it's important to research how many cases are settled, verses how many cases go to trial and win, before choosing a company.

Individual or Group Plans

You can purchase physician malpractice insurance as an individual if you are not a part of group practice. In order to get lower rates, you can join a group that shares the costs. Check with trade associations first. Many times professional associations offer group rates as a benefit.

Insurance Premiums

Most insurance companies charge premiums based on the risks associated with the specialty of the physician. They also base their rates on where the physician is practicing. For example, a doctor with a practice in New York City will pay a higher rate than one in the same type of practice based in Lynchburg, Virginia. The rates are not based on your experience as a doctor. Instead, they are based on the number of malpractice lawsuits filed in your area.

The risk of one patient lawsuit is more than what most physicians can financially withstand. You are better off buying insurance with the highest coverage amount that you can afford.

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