Do Contact Tracers Need to Protect Themselves with Professional Liability Insurance?
Of all the new terms to come out of the pandemic, one that really sticks out is contact tracers. This is a new profession adjacent to medical workers in which a person is hired to keep track of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or who have been in contact with someone who has recently been diagnosed.
But while there’s no doubt that this is a very important role in the current pandemic, the fact remains that most people in the medical field have professional insurance – so do contact tracers need insurance, too?
Do Contact Tracers Need Insurance?
Contact tracing has been an invaluable position in the pandemic, but as time goes on and more tracers are hired, new questions arise. Do tracers need to have professional liability insurance to protect themselves? The short answer is yes, this type of insurance is necessary for people who are tracing contact trails for two very important reasons: errors and documentation.
The main purpose of contact tracing is to keep track of everyone who could conceivably be in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Given the fact that this virus can incubate without any symptoms for several days, that often means that people are unwittingly in contact with an asymptomatic person and likely exposed to the virus.
What that means in a practical sense is that tracing contacts isn’t as simple as contacting family and coworkers – sometimes it can also mean contacting transportation workers, medical professionals, or people who were in the same building but do not work directly with the individual, as well as all the people who interact with potentially exposed individuals. This could be at the gym or at a restaurant they visited. Because contact tracing can mean tracking dozens of people at once, it’s important to have professional insurance to cover any liability from errors or omissions when identifying and contacting many potentially exposed individuals.
A huge part of contact tracing is keeping a detailed account of all the contacts that have been made, how and when you contacted them, the responses of those contacts (whether they answered or not), and any new contacts that have been identified. This is a lot of documentation. For that reason, it’s important to have liability insurance to protect against any claims of inaccurate documentation or accusations of negligent reporting that may result in omitted contacts.
Liability insurance for the documentation involved in contact tracing can protect the process of the job, as well as the work that has been done to contact potentially exposed individuals.
Why Else Might Insurance Be Necessary?
Aside from protecting against liability claims for errors, omissions, and documentation, there are other reasons why it might be smart to seek professional insurance for contact tracers. For example, many tracers are hired by contract from a local health department and are not official employees of the department, which means they may not qualify for protection from the department during liability claims. By having their own liability insurance, tracers can protect themselves even if they are part-time or freelance workers.
Insurance may also be a good idea for the sake of practicality. Whether your tracing is done from a home office or involves going out into the community to trace contacts, it’s essential that all components of your job are covered by insurance. The fact of the matter is that all healthcare workers are putting themselves at high personal risk during the pandemic, even in new positions for contact tracing, and these individuals all deserve as much protection as possible.
What Does Professional Liability Insurance Cover?
This type of insurance is different from other types of liability insurance, which covers things like damage to personal property. Professional liability will cover legal fees and court costs associated with claims against negligence, misrepresentation, omissions and errors, advice given in the context of your job and more. Essentially, this type of insurance will help cover the cost of legal representation and costs if claims are processed through the court, which can save a lot of money in the long run. Remember, you don’t have to do anything wrong for someone to accuse you of negligence or misrepresentation. Medical professionals often get sued even when acting in accordance with their job duties and standards.
Will Contact Tracing Be a Growing Part of the Medical Field?
Given the course of the pandemic and the possibility of new mutations of the virus developing across the world, it’s reasonable to expect that contact tracing will be a growing profession in the medical field. In fact, contact tracing is already playing an important role in integrating workers transitioning back into the workplace. Contact tracing will be an essential part of maintaining the health of office spaces, schools, and other public places as restrictions are lifted and more people begin working outside of the home again.
Read more: Become a COVID Contact Tracer
Is it necessary for tracers to have liability insurance? It turns out, liability insurance can help protect tracers from legal claims associated with documentation and errors in contact tracing, something which may be more necessary in the future as this profession grows more common in the medical field. While necessary, it’s very affordable from NOW Insurance. Contact tracers can expect to pay between $4-$10 per month.
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