The liability lowdown

July 1, 2019
Do you know the difference between general and professional liability insurance? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about liability insurance.
Professional Liability Insurance

Do you know the difference between general and professional liability insurance? How about liability limits?

It's enough to make your head spin, but fear not: AOAExcel® Endorsed Business Partner Lockton Affinity offers services specifically for AOA members, including complimentary quotes and policy review.

Oliver Sowards, program executive at Lockton Affinity, shared with AOA Focus the answers to some frequently asked questions doctors have when it comes to liability insurance.

How is general liability insurance different from professional liability insurance (malpractice insurance)? Are other doctors carrying general liability insurance, too?

General liability insurance protects against physical injury to people or damage to property arising from your daily operations as a doctor of optometry, whereas professional liability insurance covers negligence related to the professional services or treatment you provide to your patients. Many doctors carry both types of coverage for different reasons—one being that the doctor's place of employment may require it. But in most cases, it is up to the insured as to whether they wish to carry the general liability coverage in addition to the professional liability coverage.

What are some of the determining factors that go into a malpractice insurance quote?

Quotes can differ because the amount you will pay for your policy is determined by several factors, including new-doctor discounts, coverage levels and the county and state you practice in.

What are liability limits?

Malpractice insurance coverage levels are commonly represented by two figures. The first figure represents the maximum dollar amount the insurance company will pay per claim during the policy year. The second figure represents the maximum dollar amount the insurance company will pay for all claims during the policy year.

What's the difference between shared limit and separate limit for professional liability coverage?

Shared limit means you and your corporation share your limits of liability, so whatever your limit is per occurrence, you and the corporation would both draw from that amount. This can be done at no extra charge. Separate limit means that your corporation has an additional limit of liability, the same amount as yours but separate. This option increases your premium amount.

What are some common pitfalls that a doctor should look for when reviewing their policy?

Some malpractice insurance policies contain exclusions that can be left open to interpretation.

Surgical exclusions, such as removal of a foreign body, are an example of an exclusion that may not be clear to the insured when purchasing a policy. Also, some policies may not cover every procedure that is part of your state's defined scope of practice.

Protect your patient data and your practice

Nobody is immune from data breaches or cybersecurity issues, so it's important to make every effort to protect patient health information, be it from malicious intent or mindless accident. Although cyberattacks are a very real threat to patient health information, commonly it's something as painfully ordinary as a lost or stolen laptop or cell phone with access to data or practice systems.

With cyber liability insurance through AOAExcel, you're covered for the high costs incurred from any theft or breach of patient data, including:

  • Notification services to help with legal requirements that can cost up to $30 per affected record
  • Services to help you respond to an incident and investigate the cause
  • Costs of ongoing credit monitoring

Learn more about business and liability insurance.

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