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Do Nurses Really Need to Buy Liability Insurance?

Career News March 18, 2013

In the past, nurses never had to worry about buying liability insurance, but times have changed. Lawsuits for medical malpractice are no longer confined to doctors. Nurses have been named in recent suits. There are several factors that make it difficult to determine if you need to have nursing liability insurance:

•Some employers provide this insurance for their nurses.
•Some employers do not permit nurses to have personal liability insurance.
•Some healthcare professionals and attorneys stated that nurses will not need any individual coverage since they are covered by their employer.

This conflicting information means that nurses certainly have to do their homework and be well informed about nursing liability insurance details. There is no one policy that will suit all nurses. However, if you are in doubt about the situation, you should get the facts to help you make up your own mind. Some of the things you have to consider about nursing liability insurance are:

The Type of Coverage You Need

Liability insurance has two types of coverage:

Claims coverage

This coverage refers to the coverage you receive from the employer. It covers you on the job, but once you leave the place of work and are involved in a nursing situation, you are not covered.

Occurrence coverage

This coverage is in place for you wherever you are and whether or not you work for a particular employer.
It is obvious that occurrence liability is the best option, but the coverage is more expensive.

The Policy of Your Employer

Although your employer could cover you, the insurance policy employers provide concentrate on the interests of employers, rather than the individual interests of the nurses. In addition, the organization could later sue you for a problem if it suspects that you were mainly responsible for the incident. For these reasons, you should get a copy of the insurance policy and review it. You should know what the limits are (financially) regarding your specific liability; you could be responsible for any amount that is not covered with insurance. Experts have suggested nurses to get their own liability insurance due to these issues.

Maximum Coverage

The majority of nursing liability insurance plans provides one-incident maximum coverage, along with a cap on the overall coverage. For example, the insurance policy may cover up to one million dollars for one incident, and five million dollars for the overall coverage.

Who Pays the Legal Fees?

You should know whether or not your insurance policy covers the costs associated with legal fees for your defense. It could be deducted from the maximum coverage. You should look for insurance plans that pay extra for legal fees because it is extremely expensive. If the legal fees are high, they may reduce the amount available with which to settle a lawsuit, meaning that you may have to make up the difference.

Appearances Before Nursing Board

Depending on the situation, you may be called to appear before the nursing board regarding your license. If this is the case, you have to make sure that the legal and administrative costs are covered by your liability insurance because they are extremely costly, even for the most frivolous cases.

Dealing with Frivolous Suits

You may need to defend yourself even if a lawsuit is frivolous or without merit. You need liability insurance for this reason. It is not only “incompetent or bad nurses” who get sued; even if you are skilled at what you do, you could be sued.

Different Types of Liability

Nursing liability insurance is different from other types of personal liability insurance plans and personal injury. This insurance protects you against financial ruin if you are accused of making a serious mistake and sued over your actions.

Policy Extensions

Additional coverage is available through policy extensions. Ask your insurance provider questions; so you will know what is available and what fits within your budget.

Who Needs Nursing Liability Insurance?

You should definitely get individual nursing liability insurance, if you do volunteer work, change employers, move from place to place, or work in areas that attract litigation (such as nursing homes, critical care unit, surgery, etc.). You should get maximum coverage that fits within your budget, but do not go overboard – you may become a target for a lawsuit if lawyers discover that you have an enormous liability limit.

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