Nurse Attorney Says Nurses Should Consider Getting Their Own Liability Insurance

Content courtesy of Berxi Insurance

Nurses have an impact on patients’ lives from the moment they step in the door to the moment the patient returns home.

In a profession with a high amount of contact with patients, nursing also has a potential for liability, according to legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN.

Because of this, “Every nurse should have his or her own insurance,” Brent said.

We sat down with Brent, who offers useful insights about professional liability insurance, aka medical malpractice insurance, that every nurse should know.

Q: Do most nurses have primary coverage through their employers?

Employees of healthcare facilities are often automatically included as part of a group. However, you should always ask to make sure.

Q: Why should nurses consider obtaining their own individual professional liability insurance?

A: I’ve always supported nurses carrying their own professional liability insurance policy as individuals because nurses are so involved in patient care. Nurses are pivotal. They carry a great deal of potential liability on their backs because they’re there 24/7. While it’s nice when your employer provides you coverage under a group policy, having a policy that only applies to you has benefits. You’re the only one who is covered under your personal policy, which means you have access to additional limits and other policy protections.

Q: How does individual insurance coverage differ for a nurse practitioner?

A: Nurse practitioners are in an expanded role of practice. For example, in many states, they can diagnose, treat, and prescribe. So their role in patient care is much more involved than that of an RN. In some states, they have full independence in treating their patients. If you are a licensed NP, your liability insurance policy should specifically acknowledge that increased skill level so your policy will cover you for your full scope of practice if you are sued.

Q: What type of coverage should individual professional liability insurance include? And how can nurses assure it covers them adequately?

A: There are several different factors a nurse should consider if they’re going to purchase their own malpractice insurance.

The first thing to consider would be the type of policy they’d want to have — in other words, whether you’d want a claims-made policy or an occurrence policy.

A claims-made policy will only cover a claim that is made while the insurance policy is in effect. So, if a suit gets filed after the nurse leaves an employer, it isn’t going to be covered because the claim wasn’t filed when the policy was in effect. An occurrence policy is less complicated, but they’re more expensive, because they cover a claim so long as the alleged injury arose during a period of time that the policy was in effect. That’s very important to look at.

The other issue is the amount of coverage the nurse will need.

The limit of liability is how much a policy will pay for a settlement or judgment that results from a claim. The best rule of thumb is to ensure that …read more

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