4 paths to practice protection

July 1, 2015
Brush up on these lesser-known ways to protect your business.

Excerpted from page 44 of the June 2015 edition of AOA Focus.

It's impossible to plan for everything, but there is plenty doctors of optometry can do to when it comes to practice protection.

Aside from the biggies—business liability, malpractice and property insurance—here are a few lesser-known ways to protect your business.

  1. Incorporate
    Before buying any insurance or even taking a W-2 job with an optometry practice, incorporate your business as an S Corporation or a C Corporation, says Lisa Wade, O.D., director of the Southern College of Optometry's Hayes Center for Practice Excellence. That way, if any suit does arise, it's your corporation that's sued, not you.

    "If you have any assets, I recommend you incorporate," Dr. Wade says. "Having just a sole proprietorship and operating under your name without that added layer of protection is a huge risk. That organizational structure is a critical step to protecting your business."

  2. Consider key person coverage
    Steven Ganz, O.D., who retired from his Brooklyn, New York, practice in 2013, took out key person disability insurance years ago, expecting never to use it. When he was diagnosed with a serious medical condition two years ago, he was thankful to have it. The policy covered 12 months of operating expenses in case Dr. Ganz, the "key person" in his small practice, was unable to work for any reason. That bought him the time to care for his health and to put together a practice portfolio for prospective buyers with the help of AOAExcel.

    Just before the policy ran out, the practice sold. "The key man really saved us," says Dr. Ganz, who says his health has stabilized. "Without it, not only would we not have gotten the money we did, but it would have cost us money to break it down."

  3. Lean on Optometry Cares®
    When the Laramie, Wyoming, optometry clinic of Mark Wells, O.D., and his partners caught fire in 2014, he had plenty of insurance, including property and payroll insurance. But that money doesn't show up in the first few weeks. So Dr. Wells turned to other doctors of optometry and to Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation's Fund for Disaster Relief. The fund grants small amounts of money to doctors of optometry whose practices have undergone catastrophes. Dr. Wells says the $2,000 the practice received made a difference.

    "It helped to pay relocation costs," he says. "In that first month we hadn't gotten much insurance money, and that really helped us."

  4. Keep up to date on current scams
    Larry Greidinger, O.D., can see all the attempts to break into his secure network on his firewall log. But none of the firewalls, Wi-Fi passwords or antivirus software help when his staff receive calls from people claiming to work for the Internet service provider. They try to convince the employee to give the scammer access to the desktop. Regularly checking the FBI's Internet Fraud page can keep you and your data safe.

Read more about what you can do to circumvent risks to your practice and patients on page 40 of the June 2015 edition of AOA Focus.

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