3 questions to ask your malpractice insurance agent

March 2, 2023
Bring these questions to the next meeting with your insurance agent, and hear from an industry expert on how these questions should be answered by someone who is protecting your career.
Three arrows in the bullseye of a target displaying Malpractice Insurance next to it

Excerpted from page 42 of the January/February 2023 edition of AOA Focus.

The nuances of malpractice insurance may be complex and confusing. Kevin Johnson, senior vice president and program executive for Lockton Affinity—an AOAExcel® endorsed business partner—offers tips to help navigate this area. Lockton Affinity covers thousands of doctors of optometry across the country with malpractice (professional liability) insurance.

Question No. 1: How does the policy cover my scope of practice?

Check to make sure your malpractice insurance covers your state’s scope of practice. Each state’s scope of practice dictates which procedures doctors are permitted to perform. There are many instances where this can come into play. For example, while you may be allowed to perform certain procedures, it’s possible that your malpractice insurance doesn’t cover that procedure and wouldn’t cover any damages. Ask your insurance agent where the insurance policy contains language to confirm how your scope of practice is covered. The policy should be specific about what is covered and what isn’t. If you are unable to locate that language in the policy, have your agent show you precisely where it is covered.

Lockton’s tip:

Have your agent show you precisely where in your policy it shows you’re covered, and be sure to ask about exclusions and definitions. While these policies may be over 100 pages, an agent should be able to show which page in the policy specifically says how you’re covered. Instead of asking your agent “Am I covered?” ask them to show you where you’re covered.

In addition, having malpractice insurance that automatically updates when scope of practice changes is important. If your coverage doesn’t automatically update, it could leave you liable for a malpractice claim.

Question No. 2: What is the agent’s and customer service department’s understanding of the optometric profession?

Customer service should be an essential part of your insurance provider. Doctors should be able to rely on an insurance provider who is familiar with the nuances and terminology of optometry. Your provider’s customer service department should be able to answer common questions that doctors would have regarding their policy. Research the background of the agent to determine how familiar they are with the optometric profession.

Lockton’s tip:

Choosing an insurance provider who has a background working with optometric professionals ensures that your insurance company is up to date on changes in the profession and scope of practice coverage, and has experience dealing with prior cases involving optometry. Ask how your insurance company has the specific knowledge, connections and track record that will be beneficial to your career as a doctor.

Question No. 3: When is the last time your agent handled an optometric malpractice insurance claim?

Experience in handling complicated claims is necessary for a malpractice insurance agent. Knowing the intricacies of the optometric profession, as well as knowing what to anticipate, can be a tremendous asset when settling claims that are specific to doctors. That experience in handling similar cases is reassuring when you need it most. Research your agent to see how many claims they have dealt with regarding the optometric profession.

Lockton’s tip:

While uncommon, there are times when doctors are faced with malpractice claims. When one is faced with a claim, that’s not the ideal time to find out that your insurance agent has never fielded one from a doctor of optometry before. Practice with confidence knowing that your agent has dealt with these claims in the past, and rest assured that you’ll be well-served in this event.

Resources for AOA members

Complimentary Policy Review. As a complimentary member benefit, you can upload your full malpractice insurance policy. Lockton Affinity will review the policy and identify where there are any exclusions in your current policy.

Quick Quote Tool. In a matter of seconds, you can find out what guaranteed full-scope coverage will cost for you and your practice.

Malpractice Guide for Young Doctors. Enjoy a free downloadable guide that explains the ins and outs of malpractice insurance.

Speak with an agent. Call Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET and speak with a live insurance agent from Lockton Affinity. Bring them any specific questions you may have. Call 888.343.1998.

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