How Telemedicine Impacts Malpractice Insurance

With the coronavirus disease 2019 (or COVID-19) impacting every aspect of life, from work to school, getting groceries to attending sports games, there are few things it hasn’t touched in this new normal. For those still operating their businesses, decisions are necessary regarding physical office space, marketing campaigns, and staff size. But one area business operators may have not considered is the impact of COVID-19 on their insurance. Particularly, many medical professionals may be wondering how telemedicine impacts malpractice insurance.

What Is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is exactly what it sounds like: medicine practiced from afar via technological communication. Just like telecommuting, telemedicine existed before COVID-19 hit. But in the months since, the “tele-” approach has become a universal adaptation to pandemic life. Telemedicine usually takes place via video chats, allowing the doctor and patient to have face-to-face interaction through a digital screen. The patient can describe their symptoms and experiences to the doctor remotely, and the doctor can discuss courses of action with them. Prescriptions, referrals, and follow-up appointments can all happen electronically, so the entire process is possible with the appropriate pandemic distancing. However, because of this change in medical care, questions have arisen regarding the legal and insurance side of the equation.

What Malpractice Insurance Do You Have?

Medical malpractice insurance policies can vary significantly, depending on the specialization of the doctors, the amount of desired coverage, and the location of the practice. Professional liability malpractice insurance is one of the requirements to practice in many states across the U.S. Despite these often-customized insurance policies, medical malpractice insurance generally falls into two categories: occurrence and claims-made insurance.

Occurrence policies cover all potential incidents during the time of the policy. Even if the policy has been canceled or expired, if a claim addresses an incident that happened during the period of the policy, the doctor or practice is covered. With claims-made malpractice insurance, however, the policy only works if the doctor or practice was paying for the insurance both at the time of the incident and at the time of the claim. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, but regardless of the malpractice insurance you have, it is best to fully understand it and how COVID-19 affects your coverage.

What Are Insurance Companies Doing About COVID-19?

As with many service providers during this pandemic, insurance companies are tailoring their services to reflect the shifting needs of their clients. Many insurance companies are continuing the same coverages as they did when medical practices conducted business in person. They have simply transitioned their coverage to include telemedicine. However, due to the opportunity for telemedicine to cross state lines, medical practitioners must be aware of their patients’ locations. If a medical professional is only licensed to practice in a particular state, but their patient is not receiving care in that state, then there may be issues that arise. Be wary, though, because some insurance providers have not made this transition and are not planning to include telemedicine in their coverage.

Telemedicine and Malpractice Insurance

Doctors and practitioners can conduct telemedicine from the relative safety and comfort of their own homes. Patients and doctors do not physically interact, making it an efficient way to communicate verbally, but it’s far less efficient when it comes to analyzing a person’s physical condition. Because telemedicine occurs virtually, there are fewer doctor-patient interactions that would generate a potential malpractice claim. There are no complex procedures taking place and no physical contact with the patient, so there is less risk. Telemedicine is also most effective for normal checkups and writing prescriptions. Overall, telemedicine features lower liability because there is less opportunity for malpractice to occur.

How Does It All Affect Healthcare Professionals?

The main impact for healthcare professionals is the insurance coverage under the new terms of telemedicine. Especially for those who were not previously practicing their craft virtually, telemedicine is a new and sometimes daunting shift. Beyond grasping how to operate a telemedicine software or system and training staff in the basics, understanding the doctor-patient relationship as mediated by technology is no easy task. Learn what you can about your system’s features. Also, seek guidance from fellow healthcare professionals during this time, particularly those who had already been using telemedicine to conduct their business for some time.

One new thing to consider with telemedicine is the issue of security. If not handled properly and securely, patient records or telemedicine sessions can become compromised, and opening up sensitive information to theft by malicious parties. Conduct more research into the safety features of your telemedicine software. Make sure that you have a secure log-in for both the doctor and the patient. Also, find safe ways to archive and store any videos or photos you take during telemedicine sessions. Be sure to provide information to patients about HIPAA so that they understand their rights. The world of technology can be helpful, but it can also be dangerous. See to it that you and your staff receive comprehensive training on how to handle confidential information electronically.

Contact a Malpractice Insurance Agency

With all the technicalities and complexities involved in insuring against medical malpractice, the best solution is to talk to your current provider or an insurance professional like those here at Baxter and Associates LLC. There is no better solution than speaking directly with those in charge of your insurance because they will be able to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding your policy. You may need to be ready to restructure your policy or switch providers based on your changing needs. Also, if your policy is ending soon, make sure that any renewals include telemedicine coverage.

The changes necessary to respond to COVID-19 are far and wide. Understanding how telemedicine impacts malpractice insurance is one way to transition and adapt well to the new way of life. Medical professionals seek to serve, help, and heal. It is important to make sure your practice has the protection it needs in every capacity so that people can continue to receive the medical attention they need.

How Telemedicine Impacts Malpractice Insurance

Choosing Dental Malpractice Insurance

Like other medical professionals, dentists need legal protection from malpractice claims. There are many options out there, so it is helpful to know how to find the best insurance. Here are some important details to consider when choosing dental malpractice insurance.

Their Expertise With Dentists

The first thing to consider about an insurance agency or policy provider is the expertise they have defending dentists. Though dentists are undoubtedly medical professionals, many insurance providers have more experience with claims made against other kinds of doctors. You need to know that your insurance provider is equipped to handle the particularities of your field of medicine. If you have a consultation, ask them about their experience defending dentists and if they look to settle a claim or litigate it.

The Type of Policies They Offer

Medical malpractice insurance comes in many shapes and sizes. However, there are two main types widely found: occurrence and claims-made malpractice insurance. Occurrence and claims-made policies offer very different types of coverage, depending on the time of the incident in question and the time that the claim is made. Though you may already know what coverage you want, it is helpful to have other options when renewing your policy in the future.

What You Have To Pay

An important consideration in any insurance policy is the price for the coverage you want. With dental malpractice insurance, you need to understand the premiums you are required to pay. This will help you integrate the price of insurance into your overall budget. Before you make a consultation, come up with a range of prices you are willing to pay for malpractice coverage so you know what costs you can manage.

The world of insurance can be complicated and frustrating, but choosing dental malpractice insurance that will fully cover you is important for the sustainability of your practice. If you have any questions or would like to get a quote, contact us here at Baxter and Associates LLC for more information on medical malpractice insurance for dentists.

Tips for Choosing Chiropractic Malpractice Insurance

Choosing insurance for any aspect of your life or work can be confusing. You do not want to end up with more than you need, but you also do not want to be open to any significant risk in the future. Especially when it comes to medical malpractice claims, you want to be prepared for anything that could happen. To help you figure out what you need, here are a few tips for choosing chiropractic malpractice insurance.

Occurrence vs Claims-Made Policy

One of the most important choices when it comes to medical malpractice insurance is the general type of insurance you choose. Occurrence and claims-made policies are the two main types of insurance available, offering different kinds of coverage. Occurrence policies provide coverage for any malpractice claims made about an incident during the time of the policy. Even if your policy is expired or canceled, you are able to get support because the incident occurred during the time of your previous policy coverage. Claims-made policies provide coverage only when the claim and the incident both took place while the policy was in effect.

Coverage Limits

Each type of policy comes with its own set of limits. Whether this is an occurrence policy or a claims-made one, you will need to determine the limits of the insurance you are considering. This really comes down to the amount of risk and financial responsibility you are willing to take on in the event of a malpractice claim. When you talk with an insurance professional, be sure to ask about the specifics of the coverage provided and the limit after which you would be held responsible to pay.

Finding the Right Rate

Occurrence and claims-made policies come at differing prices. Occurrence policies are generally more expensive; however, they do generally provide more coverage. But occurrence insurance is not available in all states, so speak with an insurance professional about the options you have and the pricing for each one. Go into the conversation with an idea of how much you are willing and able to spend on insurance from month to month. This will help you as you discuss the rates available for chiropractors in your area. Contact us here at Baxter and Associates LLC to get a quote for chiropractic malpractice insurance that fits your needs.

Finding the right insurance is essential to ensuring the longevity and security of your medical practice. Use these tips for choosing chiropractic malpractice insurance to guide you toward the right policy.

Occurrence vs. Claims-Made Malpractice Insurance

When getting into the world of medical malpractice insurance, there are many special coverages you can purchase. Despite the customized policies you may be seeking, there are two general types of medical malpractice insurance to compare: occurrence vs claims-made malpractice insurance.

What is Occurrence Malpractice Insurance?

An occurrence malpractice insurance policy will pay a claim if a potential incident occurred during the time of your coverage. Even if your policy is expired or canceled, an occurrence policy will cover you if the incident in question happened while under the policy. For example, if you canceled your occurrence policy in January 2020 then received a claim about an incident from December 2019—the month before, while you were still under the policy—you would be covered even though you currently do not pay for the policy.

What is Claims-Made Malpractice Insurance?

A claims-made malpractice insurance policy is basically the opposite of an occurrence policy. You must be paying for the policy and be covered by it at the time of the incident and the time the malpractice claim is filed. If you take the previous example, though you were covered at the time of the incident, you are not covered at the time of the filing. So, you would not be able to use the policy because you are not currently engaged in it. That is, unless you purchase a tail policy for claims that are reported after the policy is not longer active.

How Do They Compare?

The key difference is in the timing—the critical distinction is the coverage provided when a potential incident occurs and when a claim is filed. An occurrence policy is usually preferred by healthcare professionals; however, it is not available in all states and is often more expensive than a comparable claims-made policy. When deciding what option is best for your practice, make sure to compare prices, consider what kind of claims are common in your specialization, and what choice similar practices in your area have selected.

Choosing occurrence vs claims-made malpractice insurance can be difficult, but there are certain benefits and limiting factors to consider with each. No matter the type of coverage you are looking for, get in touch with an insurance professional at Baxter and Associates LLC to discuss malpractice insurance for healthcare professionals.