Elfrieda Johnson, President, JNESO Board of Directors
It is important to remember that if your employer provides insurance, it is focused on protecting your employer. Your employer's policy may cover you, but only up to a point. Remember: Your employer's policy is created to fit their specific needs and protects them first. Nurses and techs need coverage that puts their interests first; you can be sued at any time, for any reason. Malpractice insurance typically pays for a defense attorney and any settlement or judgment against the nurse or tech, up to the policy limits.
Depending on the policy, it will also often cover licensure defense. All malpractice insurance policies have limits of liability. If you are only covered by your employer's insurance, other defendants employed at your entity may and probably do share your liability limits under the same policy. If you as well as others are named in a suit, your legal costs, including any settlement, could exceed your employer's shared liability limits. This would mean out-of-pocket expenses for you.
Things to Keep in Mind
When selecting a policy, ask about an “occurrence” policy, which provides coverage for incidents that happen while the policy is in effect. There are also “claims-made” policies, which only cover if the claim is filed while the policy is active. Having your own malpractice insurance coverage does not make you a more likely target for a lawsuit. When something happens and a patient is injured, most attorneys will name everyone who was involved in the patients' care in the lawsuit—whether you have your own coverage or not.
Some types of malpractice insurance may provide for medical expenses or property damage if you are assaulted at work or during work-related travel. Ask if your policy defines "workplace" as anywhere you are providing professional services, so this coverage will travel with you into the field.
Even if you plan to retire or keep your license active, you have a responsibility to anyone to whom you give advice, any place you volunteer, or any situation that requires emergency care. Your nursing license needs to be insured at all times. Ask about a Retirement/Leave Discount, which may include family leave, change to a non-nursing occupation, retirement, or disability.
If you currently carry malpractice insurance –great, take pause and review your policy’s limits. If you do not carry malpractice insurance, carefully consider looking into obtaining malpractice insurance to protect your license, it will provide greater piece of mind and is tax deductible.
Contact your JNESO Labor Representative or call the JNESO Office for additional information: