If you’re just getting started in your medical training, you might be wondering how malpractice insurance works for medical school, your internship, residency or fellowship. So, today we’re going to talk about the things you need to know going into these programs, whether or not supplemental insurance is something you should consider, and what to expect when you finish your training and get started in the real world of medicine.
In the United States, medical students are required to carry malpractice insurance.
Whether the student is on a clinical elective, a rotation, or just observing, the institution providing the training will require you to be covered. Now, most of the time, malpractice insurance will be provided FOR YOU by the facility that you’re receiving education at, but it’s always good to confirm that this is the case.
If, for some reason, you are required to obtain your own malpractice insurance for medical school, there are a variety of insurance carriers who offer this type of coverage, and an agent can help you compare options.
The preferred policy type for medical students is Occurrence coverage, so you don’t have to worry about tail insurance once you cancel the policy.
The price for medical student malpractice coverage is much lower than what a traditional policy would cost.
The same things hold true for internship and residency. Malpractice coverage is required, but most of the time, it will be provided FOR YOU by the hospital or institution that you are training at.
If you happen to train at a facility that does NOT provide malpractice insurance, or if you need coverage for a short-term rotation at another clinic or out-of-state facility, there are several malpractice carriers that can cover this for you, as well. Again, contact a malpractice insurance agent for help with this.
Fellowship can be a bit different. Malpractice insurance is still certainly required, but many times you’ll be asked to obtain your own coverage.
While some fellowship programs DO provide malpractice insurance for their trainees, others will ask you to get your own.
Fellowship malpractice insurance rates are less expensive than standard premiums. Although fellows work more independently than a resident or medical student, they are still mentored and supervised by another, more experienced physician or surgeon – who should have THEIR own malpractice insurance, as well.
Sometimes, the fellowship program will provide malpractice insurance for you, but in the event that you must obtain your own policy, keep in mind that rates are generally 50-75% of what they would cost normally.
The other thing to know is that if you need to purchase your own malpractice insurance for fellowship, you can KEEP this policy after you’ve finished training, and have it cover you for whatever you’re going to be dong next – whether it’s going into independent practice, moonlighting, working as a 1099 or locums provider, OR if you just want to maintain a supplemental malpractice policy to cover anything that your next policy may not. Just talk to your agent about your future plans and they can help you setup the right kind of coverage.
Now, back to moonlighting for a moment… as you know, moonlighting occurs when an individual holds a second job outside of their normal working hours. While moonlighting is not unique to the medical profession, it is common, especially among residents and new physicians as a practical way to make some additional income while continuing to hone their skills.
If you are still in training and YOU want to moonlight, you will need to get your own malpractice insurance for this.
Many carriers offer moonlighting policies or part-time malpractice insurance policies at a discounted rate, so obtaining additional coverage is pretty affordable. Having supplemental malpractice insurance for work that you do outside of your employment or training provides additional peace-of-mind and the coverage that you need to explore other opportunities.
Once you’ve finished your training and you’re on to the real world, there are a few final things for you to know about malpractice insurance. Depending on what you’ll be doing – whether that’s private practice, joining a group, working for a hospital or university, or something else… Again, you’ll be in a situation where you may have your malpractice insurance provided for you, or you may have to obtain your own.
If you will be obtaining your own malpractice insurance, most carriers will offer a discounted premium your first year in practice (many offer a discount for the first 2-3 years).
This savings can be significant… sometimes 50-60% off the standard premium, so be sure to work with a knowledgeable malpractice insurance agent so that you can compares policies, rates, and other key factors to help you find the coverage that’s right for you.