While true medical errors may not happen that often, almost every physician will experience adverse events from time to time. The topic of malpractice insurance for locum tenens physicians can be uncomfortable, but statistics show that if you’re in practice for five years or more, odds are that you’ll be named at least once in some kind of professional medical liability action. Malpractice insurance protects locum tenens providers from the financial impact of legal action that may arise from adverse events.
The good news is that when things like this come up, it does not have to be a career-limiting event. It is possible for you to fully enjoy the advantages of the locum tenens lifestyle while keeping risk to a minimum. We asked Morris Jensby, vice president of the risk management team for Weatherby’s parent company CHG Healthcare, to explain how malpractice insurance works when you accept a locum tenens job.
1. You’re covered even for two-day assignments
MJ: Weatherby Healthcare provides physicians appropriate malpractice insurance when they begin an assignment. This is important, because some individual physician policies specifically exclude locum tenens contracts. It’s also important because many physicians may not be up to speed on the insurance requirements in each of their locum tenens practice settings.
“Some locum tenens companies purchase limited-term individual policies for each physician on assignment. In Weatherby’s case, we purchase a master policy with a top-rated insurance company and add physicians to that coverage in a way that specifically corresponds to their assignments. We can add and remove physicians as needed, and address specific needs that may come up in a particular locality.”
Even if physicians work two days for us and then leave, we can add them to the policy for those two-day periods. This creates significant flexibility. One thing that sets Weatherby apart is that we put our assets behind this program so that we’re directly paying to defend and indemnify the physician, rather than turning it over to insurance company personnel who may not fully understand or appreciate the nuances of locum tenens practice.
2. You’re provided claims-made malpractice insurance coverage
MJ: Weatherby Healthcare provides continuous claims-made malpractice coverage, or commits to purchase what’s known as “tail coverage.” This assures coverage for claims that are made outside of the policy term. Tail coverage is part of Weatherby Healthcare’s master plan, not administered on an individual physician basis.
If a claim does arise from an adverse event that happens while you’re on assignment with us, it will be managed by our in-house risk management team. If the claim progresses to legal action, a dedicated Weatherby risk manager who is assigned to you will retain qualified defense attorneys as needed in the jurisdiction where the case is filed.
3. You’re insured up to $1 million for medical errors
MJ: For all of our locum tenens physicians, Weatherby Healthcare’s master policy provides up to $1 million per occurrence and up to $3 million in annual aggregates. Again, that coverage is placed on a claims-made basis and includes tail coverage.
Depending on their specialties and the states where they work, some physicians elect to obtain an additional umbrella policy as a supplement to their basic professional liability coverage. These third-party coverages would come into play when claims result in settlements that are larger than than your policy limits.
4. You’re covered when you begin working with Weatherby
MJ: We try to keep things simple and manageable for our locums providers throughout the assignment experience. You don’t have to fill out a separate application to get malpractice insurance. The application to work with Weatherby Healthcare is your insurance application. Once Weatherby accepts the application, that binds our insurance coverage. We’re virtually the only staffing company that can make that commitment.
5. It’s easy to maintain locum tenens malpractice coverage
MJ: Once you meet Weatherby’s standard locum tenens credentialing and licensing criteria, all you have to do is maintain your medical license. Also, you must notify us as soon as possible about any event that results in an adverse patient outcome. We make it very easy for you to contact a Weatherby risk manager and get everything documented.
Learn more about Weatherby’s locum tenens medical liability benefits in our Physician’s Guide to Medical Practice Liability.
Check out our open locum tenens jobs if you’re curious about exploring a new opportunity!