Malpractice insurance: Ensure you’re covered even after retirement

September 5, 2016
The right policy can shield you even after you hang up your white coat.

You know malpractice insurance will protect you throughout your optometric career. But if you purchase coverage with an eye toward retirement, the right policy can shield you even after you hang up your white coat.

There are two major types of malpractice insurance: occurrence and claims-made. With occurrence policies, you're covered against a malpractice claim as long as you held the policy at the time of the alleged incident. Claims-made policies only cover you against claims brought during the time you hold the policy. 

The AOA's endorsed policy is occurrence coverage, says Michael Stokes, J.D., general counsel for the AOA. "That's better," he says, "because once you're done practicing, you no longer need to carry it."

While that's true, many doctors of optometry choose to buy an extra year of post-retirement occurrence coverage, says Kevin Johnson, program executive at Lockton Affinity, an AOAExcel® endorsed business partner. That additional year of coverage protects doctors who do the occasional odd job after retirement, he says, or need to spend extra time assisting a replacement. 

But don't fret if you've got a claims-made policy and retirement is on the horizon. You can buy an extended reporting period, or "tail coverage," for as long as you'd like to be protected against malpractice claims post-retirement. Depending on their state's statute of limitations and other factors, retiring doctors typically buy one to five years of tail coverage. "Most claims you would expect to come up within a few years," Stokes says.

AOAExcel offers malpractice insurance that covers the full spectrum of procedures and services permitted by your state, and automatically updates your coverage to reflect any future change in your state's laws.

Learn six ways to prepare for retirement now on page 34 of the September 2016 edition of AOA Focus

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