The medical malpractice insurance industry, like every industry, is operating in uncharted waters as it responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here are some of the most common questions and requests we’re receiving from our physician clients all over the country during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
(Because each state is setting their own guidelines, please make sure to contact your agent with any specific policy questions.)
Telemedicine, what do I need to know?
This is BY FAR our most common question. Most major liability insurance companies are changing their internal underwriting guidelines to allow practices to be more telemedicine-based until the COVID-19 pandemic ends. This is generally for COVID-19-related reasons, but what this entails has been loosely defined:
- Do you need to protect your patients from the virus, is one of your staff sick?
- Do your patients fall into a higher-risk pool and thus telemedicine is a safer medium?
- Are there mandated state orders?
Physicians must document the relationship to the COVID-19 Pandemic as the telemedicine portion of their practice expands.
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The utilization of telemedicine normally requires physicians to be licensed in the state where the patient is physically located. However, some states have waived the licensure requirement due to the pandemic. Physicians need to check with each state to verify that they comply with all state licensing regulations. Here is a current list of state licensing waivers and adjustments. If you are adding a new state to your practice for telemedicine, you should contact your agent or broker.
Can I reduce my malpractice policy from full-time to part-time status?
Adding this endorsement to your current coverage will reduce your overall premium costs. Most physicians choose this path because their practice has been reduced significantly due to the pandemic. Many are experiencing a significant drop in patient visits; certain procedures could be deemed elective and patients may choose to reschedule their appointments.
Can I temporarily suspend my coverage?
There have been a wide range of responses from malpractice insurance companies pertaining to suspension during the COVID-19 Pandemic: from no cost during the suspension to having the premium reduced by a certain percentage. Adding a suspension endorsement to your current coverage states that you are not seeing any patients during this time, and no coverage is provided during the suspension period. There are also specific rules covering the minimum and maximum length of time for a suspension endorsement to be approved. These vary greatly among all malpractice insurance companies and you should contact your agent if you have any specific questions or concerns.
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