Why Your Doctors Office Needs General Liability Insurance
Craig Skerpac, MBA
Running a medical practice means carrying insurance to cover commercial risks. Among the most common coverage for doctors to carry is malpractice insurance. Still, don't get confused, and think that this is the only coverage you need. The liabilities in medical practices are many. For other risks, you might need a commercial general liability insurance policy. Why is this the case? What does this coverage do?
General liability insurance addresses multiple risks your business poses to others. It often works in tandem with many other types of coverage to make your business safer for patients. As a business operator, you will often be glad that you have this coverage in place.
Malpractice Insurance Often Isn't Enough
You are a doctor. Therefore, you likely need medical malpractice insurance. Indeed some states, including New Jersey, require doctors to carry malpractice coverage.
Malpractice insurance is a type of liability insurance. In some cases, it goes by the name professional medical liability coverage. It extends to the harm you might cause one of your patients. Let's say, for example, that you misdiagnose that person. The resulting treatment and medical costs might prove to be for nothing. By default, that could lead to a lot of lost money, time and pain and suffering. As a result, the client might blame you. Malpractice lawsuits and other challenges might arise.
When such issues appear, malpractice insurance might prove helpful to the office. It might cover your legal bills, settlement costs and other terms related to lawsuits. Thus, the practice can emerge from the suit in a better position to recover.
Even with these perks, you still don't have full protection for all the liability risks in your business. Liabilities come in all shapes and sizes, not just from malpractice risks. There is always a chance that anyone could sustain harm in your business. The person affected doesn't even have to be a patient. Regardless, they may still blame the practice for their losses.
To guard against such chances, you might need to expand your liability package. Your main step should be to get general liability insurance.
Understanding General Liability Insurance
Commercial liability risks are those that might harm someone through their interactions with your business. This is a broader type of coverage than a basic malpractice policy. A general policy often covers risks not covered by malpractice alone.
Most general liability policies will have a few standard coverage elements. These might include:
- Bodily injury coverage: If someone gets hurt in your practice, they might sue you for their injuries. This coverage can help you therefore cover their losses in this regard.
- Personal injury insurance: If you libel, slander or commit advertising injury against a third party, they might bring charges against the practice. This coverage can cover those injuries, which usually are not of a physical nature.
- Property damage insurance: You might damage someone's property. For example, you might spill a solvent on their clothes and ruin them. This coverage can help you replace those costs.
But wait. Doesn't malpractice insurance cover customer liabilities in my business? Well, technically yes. However, it often only applies to mistakes made in the course of treating a patient. If you harm someone during surgery or mis-prescribe their medication, that's when malpractice steps in. Yet, if someone simply gets hurt by visiting the practice, that's when general liability insurance might come into play.
Here's a good example. Let's say that there is a leak in a water fountain in your waiting room. No one notices the damage at first. However, the leak spreads. One day, in the middle of a busy schedule, one of your patients slips in the puddle. They fall, and sustain various injuries, like a concussion and bad ankle sprain.
The injured party might have to receive extra medical attention. They didn't expect this cost. They might have to take time off work to recover. This might cause them to lose income and increase their risks of insolvency. Thus, because they slipped in your puddle, they might hold you responsible for the losses. As a result, you might need to turn to general liability insurance for assistance. It can help you compensate these parties.
Preventing Additional Liability Risks in Your Practice
Even if you have both general liability and malpractice insurance, you are not done. You'll have to take a few more steps to keep your policy risks low.
First, you'll often need several more forms of liability insurance. They might include cyber liability coverage, errors & omissions (E&O), director & officers (D&O), products or umbrella insurance. Talk to your agent about which policies work best for you. Find out how they work with your malpractice and general liability insurance.
Also, don't forget to put in place a comprehensive safety plan for your practice. It might involve many simple tasks like cleaning up spills and posting warning signs. However, the more precautions you take, the lower your risks will likely prove. Thus, the safer your practice might become for your patients.
For more information, contact one of our agents at 800-462-3401.
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