How to Find Affordable Professional Liability Insurance for Home Health Providers
When it comes to protecting your business, the professional liability insurance policy you select is critical. Home health providers face a significant risk of being sued for malpractice in the event there’s an accident or error made during the care of a patient. Fortunately, you can find affordable and simple liability insurance that will protect you from a financially devastating lawsuit.
How to Find The Right Policy
Know Who Needs Liability Insurance
The home health industry is made up of numerous medical professionals who treat patients and provide various services in a patient’s home. These professionals include registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, home health aides, nutritionists, and more. Services can be medical or non-medical (caregiving services). Everyone who’s directly involved with patient care at a patient’s home should be covered by a professional liability policy.
The risks of injury and accidents, from medication mix-ups to falls, and treatment errors to claims of negligence are high for home health providers.
Know the Difference in Types of Policies
There are two main types of liability insurance, which is also referred to as malpractice insurance for certain medical professions. The first type is general liability insurance, which is what a home health agency will need because it protects the business from certain lawsuits, along with other perils that pose risks to businesses. For example, general liability often includes property damage protection in case an employee damages a patient’s property while in their home. This policy also covers employee accidents as well.
The second main type of liability insurance is professional liability. This is a policy that each individual who interacts directly with patients should have, regardless of role. This policy will protect you personally if you’re named as a defendant in a lawsuit for any number of reasons, including negligence, improper treatment, sexual assault, slander, and allegations related to errors or omissions in work performed. If you’re an employee, you are likely covered by your employers policy but it is advised to have your own professional liability policy for full protection.
Know the Difference in Policy Structures
There are also two main types of policy structures: claims-made and occurrence. A claims-made liability policy covers you for any claim that occurs while you’re covered by and have been continuously covered by that policy. For example, if you have a policy that you’ve renewed every year between 2010 and 2021, and in 2020 someone sued you for an incident in 2015, you would be covered because you had coverage then and you had coverage in 2020.
However, if you terminate your policy on December 31, 2020, and in 2021 someone sues you for an incident in 2015, you would not be covered because the policy is no longer in force. An occurrence policy, conversely, would still cover you for that 2015 incident because you were covered in 2015. With an occurrence policy, it doesn’t matter if you’re covered when the lawsuit is brought, only if you were covered when the incident occurred.
Depending on the various options you have on your policy, a claims-made policy will be cheaper than an occurrence policy. This is because an occurrence policy continues to protect you long after the policy expires. However, with a claims-made policy you aren’t completely out of luck. You can purchase a “tail” policy to cover these potential lawsuits if you terminate a claims-made policy.
Claims-made policies come with the benefit of incident reporting. If an incident happens that you think might lead to a claim, or if you are verbally threatened with a lawsuit, you can report the incident to your insurance provider. Even if a lawsuit is filed after your policy is no longer in force, the claim will be covered if you reported the incident to your insurance provider while your policy was still in force.
Know the Must-Have Coverages
While some professional liability policies may have coverages you don’t need, which will make a policy more expensive than necessary, you do need to know which coverages you must have included in any liability insurance policy you purchase. At a minimum, your policy should cover the following expenses and situations:
- Attorney fees
- Court costs
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Medical negligence
- Medical error
- Inaccurate advice
- Bodily injury
- Compensation (settlements or awards)
- Lost income
- HIPAA fines and penalties
Know the Nice-to-Have Coverages
There are other coverages you may want to consider adding to your policy if you can afford to do so. It never hurts to get quotes for all the various coverages you can get on a policy so you can compare the most comprehensive policy from one company with a similar product from another company. Some other coverages you may find available include the following:
- Deposition expenses ($10,000 sub-limit comes standard in NOW Insurance policy)
- First aid supply reimbursement ($2,500 sub-limit comes standard in NOW Insurance policy)
- Sexual assault ($100K/300K sub-limit comes standard in NOW Insurance policy)
- Cybersecurity (NOW Insurance has affordable cyber policies you can add on)
- Equipment failure
While these coverages are less important than the minimum coverages previously mentioned, it is still worth repeating that you should be protected from every possible angle because you never know how a patient is going to perceive the care they receive from you. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, you could still face a lawsuit because the patient perceives they were harmed by something you did. You may be found innocent, but it’s still expensive to mount a defense.
Know What Is Typically Not Covered
Knowing what is covered is obviously important when considering various professional liability policies. However, you should also be aware of what is not typically covered by a basic liability plan.
For instance, most policies will not cover damage to your own personal property, even if it occurs on the job; work-related injuries (workman’s compensation claims); automobile accidents, even if you’re on your way to or from work; and illegal activities, including patient injuries that are caused by these activities.
Research Insurance Providers
Once you know which coverages you need on your policy, it’s time to start researching the insurance companies that offer professional liability policies. The best way to find simple and affordable insurance is to research the policies that several insurance companies offer. Consider companies that are financially solvent and have a history of paying their claims on time and according to their plan.
The last thing you need when you’ve been sued is to discover that your insurance company has disappeared or can’t afford to cover your expenses. A company with longevity in the insurance business is more likely to stand behind its products and still be operating when you need them. Check out complaints against the companies to verify their policies pay out in a timely manner and are trusted by medical professionals. Medical expertise is vital when considering an insurance company.
Choose a Company That Specializes in Medical Malpractice
Just as you wouldn’t visit a plumber if you needed a root canal, don’t choose a professional liability policy from a company that has no experience in medical malpractice. Therefore, you want to select a company with a track record of successfully insuring and paying out claims for medical and home health professionals.
Consider the Company’s History
Look at reviews left by actual medical professionals on various review websites, not just on the company’s own website. These reviews will offer the best snapshot of the company’s overall reputation among home health professionals. While it’s expected that every company will have some poor reviews, the company you select should have an overall favorable rating with people who work in your field. If you see many reviews citing one specific problem, that could also be a red flag.
Look at a Company’s Financial Solvency
Refrain from buying an insurance policy from a company that has declared bankruptcy or has issued any type of profit warning. As mentioned above, you want the company to still be operating if you face a lawsuit at any point while you’re covered under its policy. Insurance companies that are facing financial difficulties may delay your payments or deny them altogether, even if you qualify for them, which can result in even more headaches for you.
Compare Apples to Apples
The real key to finding value in a professional liability insurance policy is to be sure you’re comparing policies with like coverages. Obviously, a $1 million limit on a policy is cheaper than a $3 million policy, but you also need to look at the coverages that are included in each quote. Think about the must-have coverages for a home health provider so you don’t get caught with a policy that doesn’t cover what you need when you need it.
There are bound to be some different coverages amongst the quotes you receive because there’s no real standard in what a basic professional liability policy should include. Of course, a bare-bones general liability policy will have property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury coverages, but many liability companies also include defense expenses, medical expenses, and lost income coverage in their basic product. Comparing the coverages in each company’s basic policy will allow you to find hidden value.
Determine Eligibility Requirements
Some insurance companies will make you jump through hoops before deciding that you’re eligible to receive benefits from your policy. If you’re looking for a simple policy, then you want one that is not going to make it extremely difficult for you to get compensation when you’re entitled to it. Find out if you are covered right from the start, or if there is a waiting period before you can access your benefits, as this could cause major issues.
A waiting period might not be a deal-breaker but could be important if you’re suddenly faced with an unexpected lawsuit. For instance, if you purchase a policy on January 1, 2021, but you’re not eligible for benefits until you’ve been covered for three months, you won’t be able to pay for expenses related to an incident that occurs on March 4, 2021. Not all insurance companies have waiting periods, so if this is a concern, choose a different organization.
Determine the Application Process
Just as some companies make it difficult for you to access your benefits, other insurance companies make it hard for you to apply. The internet should make this process simple, so if a company refuses to take an online application, find one that will. There is no need for the application process to be difficult for liability insurance, especially since most companies can easily determine your eligibility by asking a few basic questions.
You’re a busy medical professional who doesn’t have the time to sit and wait to see if you’re eligible for coverage and what your premiums will be. A company that can provide this information to you quickly shows that it is interested in your business and wants to help you protect your career. You should also be able to easily select the amount of coverage you want and customize your policy to meet your specific needs.
As a home health professional, you are making a difference in the lives of your patients. However, even if you don’t think you’ve made a mistake, a patient could perceive that one was made and file a malpractice lawsuit against you.
Learn more about our coverage for home health companies and workers.