July 3, 2013 | POSTED BY | Articles, Clinical Optometry, Finance & Business, Healthcare, Organized Optometry
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Malpractice Insurance: What every optometry student should know.

An interview with Kevin Johnson, Vice President at Lockton Affinity

Malpractice insurance is like the birds and bees talk. Parents generally avoid it, but if they don’t give their child “The Talk,” the child may make a mistake that could affect them for the rest of their lives.

So here I am: “Son…. Daughter…. There’s something we need to talk about. When a boy or a girl really loves… their careers, they get malpractice insurance.”

What does malpractice insurance do?

  • It insures an OD against claims by a patient professing negligence or harm.
  • It allows for an OD to practice with confidence.

Why should you get malpractice insurance?

  • Malpractice claims usually don’t claim harm against just one OD. In many cases the claim is filed against every person that provided some kind of professional service to this patient.
  • Lawsuits can take a very long time to be resolved and can be very expensive.
  • One mistake may could cost you your career and your personal assets.
  • Overall peace of mind

See, that wasn’t so bad, right?

I had the opportunity to talk with Kevin Johnson, Vice President at Lockton Affinity. Mr. Johnson is in constant LocktonAffinityLogocommunication with AOAExcel™ as Lockton Affinity is the endorsed broker for the AOA Malpractice Insurance Program. AOAExcel has partnered with Lockton in order to offer great coverage and rates to AOA members. Here are a few of the questions I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Johnson.

Compared to other medical professions, what is the cost of malpractice insurance for an OD?

  • This question usually comes up when I’m standing in front of our booth at Optometry’s Meeting. A student or new grad will approach me and say “I have no idea how much malpractice insurance costs, can you help me”. I’ll tell them the average range is from $500- $700 depending on what state they practice in, and automatically they assume this is a monthly payment when in fact it is the cost for a twelve months of coverage. The cost of malpractice insurance for optometrists is actually very low when compared to the cost of insurance in other medical professions, where it can cost thousands of dollars.

What are the most common claims that are filed against optometrists?

  • The most common claim we see is an accusation against the OD for failing to diagnose a disease or other eye condition. The claim is usually made after the patient loses part of their vision or suffers from other vision-related damage.

What advice do you have for optometry students that don’t know much about malpractice insurance?

  • Your policy should be able to grow with you as your practice grows.
  • Your insurance agent/carrier should be familiar with malpractice insurance for optometrists and should be experienced in handling these types of malpractice claims. 
  •  I would recommend that students ask the prospective insurance broker/carrier if their policy covers you for all services under the scope of practice in the state where you plan to practice.
  • Don’t just choose the least expensive option. Research the available programs to ensure you are adequately covered. You want to have comprehensive coverage to protect your personal assets.

If you are interested in seeing some sample claims that an OD might have filed against him/her, Mr. Johnson graciously agreed to send me a few examples that are attached to this article.

Talking with Mr. Johnson has helped to open my eyes to how important malpractice insurance is to any practicing OD. I have been amazed at how in depth claims can be and how comprehensive an OD’s policy needs to be. Like me, AOAExcel understands that the wrong malpractice insurance policy can cause a lot of grief in the life of a practicing OD and for that reason they have worked hard to make it easy for OD’s to get great comprehensive malpractice insurance.

AOAExcel realized that there were a lot of insurance companies out there but not many were primarily concerned with optometrists. They researched many insurance brokers/carriers until they found one that they could trust which understood the unique needs of optometrists.

The result of that process was the formation of the AOA Insurance Alliance. The AOA Insurance Alliance stands out among the various malpractice insurance programs available because they provide benefits not typical of other insurance companies.

AOAExcel has done a lot of the leg work for us in choosing an insurance company. To learn more about the program, visit the AOA Insurance Alliance website.

 

References

AOA Excel. (n.d.). Understanding Professional Liability (Malpractice) Insurance. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from AOA Excel: http://www.aoainsurancealliance.com/understanding_professional_liability.htm

News From The AOA. (2011, October 9). News From The American Optometric Association. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from newsfromaoa.org: http://newsfromaoa.org/2011/10/09/aoa%E2%80%99s-solution-for-malpractice-insurance-%E2%80%93-for-optometrists-by-optometrists/