I am an experienced nurse but outside of the U.S. I just started working as RN in the U.S, and I am very concerned about legalities in my work because in the country I am from nurses are not required to have malpractice insurance. Do I need to get my own insurance, or is my employers insurance is enough?
Dear Nancy replies:
The question about whether to carry one’s own professional liability insurance policy has been the subject of several responses in this column, so you might want to review those. However, a summary of those columns can be touched upon briefly here.
It is usually recommended nurses carry their own liability policy. There are many benefits to doing so. First, you are the named insured on the policy so the insurance company will be working with you, and not your employer, should a claim be made against you. Your employer’s insurance may or may not name you personally as a named insured. Rather, it may just list “all employees” or something similar since it is really the employer with whom the insurance contract is made.
Second, as the named insured of your own policy, you would be provided with an attorney who represents you in any judicial proceedings. This is extremely important since the cost of retaining an attorney on your own can be quite expensive. Many professional liability insurance policies now provide an attorney to defend you and reimburse you for certain costs (up to the policy limits) in any disciplinary actions by the state board of nursing.
A third reason to carry your own professional liability policy is if a claim is made and you and your employer do not see eye to eye about your conduct in the situation, which caused a patient injury or death. If you were practicing outside the scope of your job responsibilities, for example, when the injury occurred, the attorney for the employer’s insurance company will defend you, but if you are found to be liable for the injury, it most likely will not pay any judgment awarded the patient.
To make an informed decision about carrying your own liability policy, you might want to see if you can get information about the policy the employer has for its employees. Is it a claims-made policy or is it an occurrence policy? Is the employer self-insured or does it purchase its insurance from an insurance company?
What are the financial limits of the policy (e.g., $100,000/$300,000)? These are some questions that can be explored, not only with your employer, but also with any insurance company underwriting professional liability insurance you might be considering to purchase.