Managing the risks of spring

March 12, 2019

Successful doctors face a wide variety of risks outside their practice walls. These are some common recurring seasonal legal and financial risks you can manage before spring break.

Successful doctors face a wide variety of risks outside their practice walls. These are some common recurring seasonal legal and financial risks you can manage before spring break. 

Parental liability 

When children are on vacation and spending more, often unsupervised, time with friends, parental liability spikes. You are generally responsible for the actions of your minor children until the age of 18 in most jurisdictions, and your knowledge and consent of their actions in not required in many cases. Your liability includes not only what they do, but what you may or may fail to do (negligent supervision).

Pay close attention how your property is being used and by whom (negligent entrustment). Your home and its contents, including potentially dangerous items like firearms, alcohol, and prescription drugs, are deemed to be under your supervision and control for liability purposes, even when you aren’t physically present to supervise and control them. These items and the other properties, such as family vacation homes, boats, cars, and recreational vehicles, often create significant liability for parents. As we’ve covered in detail, the time to make sure you have a personal liability insurance policy of at least $1 million as a bare minimum is now, not after an accident or mishap. Most people review their insurance only after a crisis.  

Travel risks 

Many physicians are fortunate enough to be able to travel with their families at this time of year. If your home or business will be unoccupied during your absence, make sure to secure the property before you depart. Pause mail and package delivery and use automatic lights and alarm systems. Being able to monitor your home and business with real-time video is increasingly considered a basic security measure by experts. Most mid-level systems (Ring, Arlo, etc.) will alert you to any movement, allow you to respond verbally and provide video recording backup, all from your phone. Also make sure to update your emergency contact information. I recently got a call as a back-up contact on a friend’s home alarm-except they moved out of state three years ago without updating their contact information. 

Once the home front is secure, consider personal security and safety issues, especially if traveling to areas that have limited medical services and transit options. I have had multiple clients who experienced medical emergencies personally or had children or elderly family members experience them. Some were fortunate to have travel insurance that covered or defrayed the very significant costs (and provided hard-to-find resources like doctors and med-evac flights), while others faced very significant expenses, risk, and trauma while dealing with these issues on their own. 

Consider the personal vulnerabilities of those traveling with you and what contingency plans you may require if they are sick or injured, or more commonly, if any essential prescriptions are lost, damaged, or stolen. Many premium credit cards offer very significant benefits in these areas that you may already have and may not be aware of. 

In addition, credit cards with significant available credit are often vital to avoid traveling with your debit card, which can compromise your bank account. Using and carrying credit cards (in RFID sleeves) with high limits instead of cash or a debit card provides some protection, but be sure you know what your cash advance limits are and have a PIN number set up in case you need access to cash in an emergency. There are still many places that won’t take credit cards or limit how much they will allow you to charge. It is also advisable to schedule your online bill pay in advance and to have active credit and “push” purchase alerts set up on your phone for all charges. This will allow you to monitor your spending and any charges in real time without having to use sketchy public wi-fi networks, including those in airports and hotels, to log into financial accounts.  

Attorney Ike Devji has practiced in the areas of asset protection, risk management, and wealth preservation law exclusively for the last 15 years. He helps protect a national client base with over $5 billion in personal assets that includes several thousand physicians and is a contributing author to multiple books for physicians and a frequent medical conference speaker and CME presenter.