Malpractice Policy Fine Print - Your Reputation Could Be at Stake

July 22, 2011

Malpractice insurance comes at a heavy cost, but the affect your policy’s fine print could have on your reputation is even costlier.

Malpractice insurance comes at a heavy cost, but the affect your policy’s fine print could have on your reputation is even costlier.

A recent article in Renal and Urology News highlights a policy item physicians should be paying attention to. It’s a simple clause that has the potential to determine who controls malpractice case settlement decisions: the insurance company or you.

In other words, if you feel strongly that you can win a malpractice case - and restore a damaged reputation by doing so - that does not necessarily mean your insurer will give you the opportunity to fight the case.

According to the article, this happened to a physician who thought he could win a lawsuit taken against him. He was ready to fight, but his insurance company wasn’t.

The insurer decided to settle the case for $500,000 - without the physician’s consent.
“I don't want to settle!” the physician reportedly said. “This is my reputation we're talking about here.”

Unfortunately for the provider, the insurer felt it would be more beneficial for the company to settle. And because of a clause in the insurance contract, the physician had no choice but to accept its decision.

How do you avoid this from happening to you? Make sure you have a "consent to settle" clause included in your policy contract. This means that the carrier will need to obtain written consent from you, the physician, to settle the claim.

Malpractice has always been a threat to physicians, but now more than ever, it’s important to make sure you know what your malpractice insurance contract covers, and what it controls.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association sheds light on the fact that primary-care providers are now just as vulnerable to malpractice suits as hospital-based physicians.

“I hope it’s a wake-up call for the medical community and for patients, so we can start working on ways to solve these problems,” Dr. Tara Bishop, who worked on the study, told Reuters Health.

But it should also be a wake-up call for you to thoroughly review your malpractice insurance policy - especially the fine print, or lack of it.

When malpractice cases occur, your reputation is on the line. If you are successful in fighting a lawsuit, you could save it.

So take care to read your malpractice insurance contract thoroughly, and make sure that you have some control over the major decisions.

Hopefully you will never have to face them, but if you do, at least you will be prepared.