You’re excited! You’ve made the decision to go out there, take the leap and go into practice! Great! And here we are talking about downer topics such as insurance and other dark news items! A sad but necessary component part of a Thriving Practice to be sure but once again, necessary.
No one likes to think that bad things will happen but they do and its one of those times when an ounce of preparation will go a long way to helping you feel safe and secure. Let’s start with the basics and for a Thriving Clinician that will mean malpractice insurance. If you belong to a professional association such as ASHA or NASW you can readily get insurance either through carriers they support or carriers they endorse. You want this. Seriously. Even if you’re the World’s Best Clinician you’ll want this. Why? Because the reality is when something goes wrong people want recognition of this, which translates to suing someone. In some states you will not be able to practice without proof of it. In order to be a part of an insurance panel for reimbursement you’ll need to regularly submit proof of it.
There are advantages to having malpractice insurance; you can consult with them on both legal and ethical issues you may encounter in the course of your practice. Some carriers also have excellent resources such as examples of how to keep clinical notes and how to set up your practice for safety.
If you rent your office space you’ll want to know about umbrella coverage should a client slip on the way into your space. Do you need it? That’s your call but its something worth knowing about. It’s also a good question to ask your malpractice carrier about; would they cover you in that case or is another type of policy needed? If your practice is located out of your home you’ll want to make sure you have a homeowners policy that allows for this. Same thing goes if you transport clients in your car; does your auto policy cover that?
On the more personal side if you’re self employed and not covered by a partner’s medical insurance you’ll need to make arrangements for this. Under the newly effective policies of the Affordable Care Act you’ll need to either sign up for coverage or pay a penalty for not doing so. (More info on this can be found at www.healthcare.gov). If you’re concerned about an accident or illness making it impossible to practice for a period of time you can also purchase disability coverage. As you age you might wish to consider long-term care insurance should you need to move to a facility or if you need assistance to live independently.
Where to get all this coverage? The ‘how to’ of purchasing insurance is very individual. You can get each of these pieces on your own or in bundles from say the carrier which you use for your home (homeowners, umbrella and car for example) and your health insurance carrier (medical and disability coverage). Your malpractice carrier may offer deals for other types of coverage so it’s worth having a conversation with them. Some practitioners prefer to go to independent insurance agents who will be able to gather quotes and help you navigate all the pieces to getting you well covered.
It might seem overwhelming but you can navigate this! Feel overwhelmed? Start with malpractice insurance and as you get comfortable with the idea that insurance is a good thing, you can purchase the other coverage you need.
Why the graphic of the dog with the flotation device you might ask? Because that’s how I think of insurance ~ a support, a hand up if you need it, but not useful unless its in place. May you never need either a flotation device or your insurance but its nice to have it if you do!