Physicians are needlessly exposed to personal liability which is why it is important to be covered with malpractice insurance. However, when shopping for a medical malpractice liability insurance policy, what usually attracts most physicians is on the premium costs that protect the physician’s coverage limit. This means that the insurance company will only pay for losses sustained by the policy holder up to a certain dollar amount, and if the loss exceeds that dollar bracket, then the physician will need to shoulder the excess payment.
There are two types of inclusions expressed in the coverage limit – a pre-occurrence limit where the insurance would state how much they would pay for a single loss or claim, or commonly known as an occurrence, while the other one is the aggregate limit where the total amount stipulated in the policy is the amount that the insurance company will pay in a given policy period, typically one year or $3 million per occurrence for aggregate limit and $1 million for pre-occurrence limit.
When physicians are dealing with coverage limits in connection to what a petitioner can claim, there are other several complicated issues that they need to be aware of. The position of most insurance companies is that even if there are two separate demands that an insurer is entitled to claim, if the case arises from a similar set of related phenomena, the insurance companies would treat it as a single occurrence instead of two occurrences. It is therefore important to know this beforehand because if multiple claims are considered a single occurrence for insurance purposes, the claims will be governed by a single per occurrence coverage limit.’
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Defense cost, is another issue that a physician should be mindful of when they go out to shop for a medical malpractice liability insurance. What is included in defense cost is the attorney fee, expert fee, and court fees which are not usually included in the coverage limit. The amount of settlement received by the physician after a court case will be deducted the defense cost by the insurance company. This is however not the case of all medical malpractice insurance companies, but their coverage limits are actually lowered down to cover this cost. Another thing that a physician must take note of is that when he reaches his covered limit, the insurance company is no longer responsible to defend the physician. It now becomes the duty of the physician to hire an attorney and pay all other expense. Though some policies do provide that the insurer will continue to provide a defense even after the coverage lime is reached.
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Excess insurance is another protection for physicians. When judgment exceeds the limit of the physician’s primary policy, this umbrella policy kicks in to cover the excess.