Doctors in other fields are more likely to experience lawsuits than a chiropractor, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. If you are hit with a lawsuit and don’t have sufficient insurance, you could end up in bankruptcy while also losing your license. Chiropractic malpractice insurance is an absolute necessity. Consider how much coverage your practice needs. That’s probably not a figure you should attempt arriving at alone. Consult your attorney or accountant to determine the amount of coverage your practice requires and remember that this amount is not set in stone. It’s wise to review your coverage limits annually to ensure there is sufficient insurance money as your practice grows. While you don’t want to pay for more coverage than necessary, it is better to have too much insurance than finding yourself underinsured. In a worst case scenario, if you are sued, too little coverage can end up exposing your personal assets. Also, check if your network has a minimum policy limit. Your state may also have such minimums, but much like state minimums for auto insurance liability amounts, you want to go above bare minimum coverage.
Chiropractic Liability Insurance
For best results, choose a company specializing in chiropractic liability insurance, not general medical malpractice insurance. An insurance company specializing in chiropractic insurance designs policies created specifically with chiropractic in mind. Their staff and the lawyers they use are familiar with chiropractic, so they can defend you against allegations. It’s not a matter of an attorney trying to bone up – pun intended – on chiropractic so they can mount a good defense, as may occur if you choose a general medical malpractice policy. You also want an insurer with an A rating from top insurance credit rating services such as A.M. Best. Your state insurance department can also provide this information. Such a rating proves the insurer is financially stable and able to pay claims. Of course, you must make sure a national chiropractic insurance carrier is licensed in your state before purchasing a policy.
It’s also important to know just what services your chiropractic liability insurance company provides. Never assume you are covered for certain events. Instead, read the policy carefully, write down any questions you have and get answers from your insurance representative or broker. The last thing you want to discover is that a claim has been filed and you aren’t covered. While most policies cover your legal defenses and the amount of any settlement, these are not the only costs you may incur when dealing with a lawsuit. Check to see if the policy covers the income you would lose if you were to be in court defending yourself. While most cases are either settled or dropped, there is always the possibility that a case could go to trial. With depositions, consulting with your attorney, preparing your testimony and the trial itself, much time is lost that could end up keeping you away from work for weeks or months.
Unfortunately, any person whose work involves placing their hands on the bodies of others may find themselves accused of sexual misconduct, no matter how spurious the charge. While standard chiropractic liability insurance may not include this type of coverage, it is often available for an additional fee. As much as you may hate the idea of purchasing such coverage because you would never behave in this manner, the nature of your practice makes you vulnerable, and it is coverage you should consider. Find out if your policy covers audit defenses, along with HIPAA and Board of Examination Defense coverage. If you have employees, you should include coverage for them as insureds.
Claims Made and Occurrence Coverage
When it comes to a lawsuit, you never know the time frame. That’s why you must decide whether you want claims made or occurrence coverage. Both types of policies cover the same types of injuries and damages, but they differ in when and how they cover claims. A claims made policy, also known as a claims made and reported policy, covers you for alleged claims made against you and reported to the insurance company during your policy period in order for coverage to apply. An occurrence policy protects you from any claims that occur during the period the policy is in effect, even if the actual claim is made long afterward. Basically, an occurrence policy offers you permanent protection from incidents allegedly occurring when the policy was in force. A claims made policy is more of a “use it or lose it” type of policy. If a claim is made after you switch insurers, for example, you aren’t covered with a claims made policy even if the supposed incident happened when you were covered by that policy. However, you can purchase tail coverage, which extends the reporting period on a claims made policy, so claims reported after coverage ends are still covered. Note that the incident itself must have occurred during the coverage, not the tail, period. You must also purchase the tail coverage from the same insurance company providing the claims made policy.
Claims made coverage is less expensive than occurrence coverage, for obvious reasons. There’s also a first year “teaser” premium rate on claims made policies since there is little risk that an insurer will lose money that year. As the years pass, however, the risk grows, and the premiums increase. By the fifth year of claims made coverage, the cost between it and occurrence coverage is similar. While occurrence coverage provides permanent protection, the sad fact is that fewer insurers are offering it. If your insurer does offer occurrence coverage, try to take advantage. You never know when someone will try to file a claim, and even if it is unfounded, you want an insurance company to defend you or offer a reasonable settlement.
How ChiroTouch Can Help
While chiropractic malpractice insurance is essential for protecting your practice, it’s not the only investment you must consider for protection. You also need first-rate chiropractic software which keeps good documentation in case you are ever audited. This, too, protects your practice. Contact ChiroTouch today and find out how our chiropractic practice management software can help your office run more smoothly and ensure your documentation is second to none.