Do Nurses Need to Carry their Own Professional Liability Policy?

Entity Professional Liability coverage is critical for a strong and responsive insurance program for home health care providers. It’s designed to help an organization protect its assets in the event of a claim alleging that the services provided or work performed caused injury or harm to a patient. Entity Professional Liability insurance will pay for defense costs and any reached settlements or judgments up to the policy limit for a covered loss. Typical losses for home health care providers include everything from failing to monitor a patient’s condition to improperly communicating with the patient about his or her medical doses resulting in noncompliance, a deteriorating medical condition, or potential negligent health; improper administration of medication; failure to maintain equipment; improper termination of service or patient abandonment; and allegations of abuse or molestation, among others.

While a home health care agency’s Entity Professional Liability insurance is typically designed to cover its employees, including nurses, it’s important that nurses also carry their own individual policy for several reasons. First, in the event of a claim, an individual policy ensures that nurses have personal attorney representation working to protect their own best interests and specific needs, especially when there are multiple defendants in a medical malpractice case, such as the home health care agency itself, a physician, and nurse for example. In addition, nurses who are covered only by their employer’s insurance share their liability limits with other defendants who are also protected under the same policy. This means a nurse’s legal costs may surpass the shared liability limits specified under the employer’s policy, if faced with a lawsuit. At times, it may even result to out-of-pocket expenses.

If an incident leads to a lawsuit outside the scope of the nurse’s job description or falls within an entity’s policy exclusion, there is the chance that the nurse may not be covered. Also, if the claim is filed after the nurse resigned or was terminated, the employer’s policy may not cover him or her, depending on the policy form. Nurses who work as independent contractors may not be covered either, again making the case for individual Professional Liability insurance.

In addition, as nurses often move from one job to the next it’s important to ensure that coverage is in effect at all times, which can be done with individual Professional Liability insurance that extends coverage well past the expiration of the policy period. Nurses who work outside the organization that employs them or who volunteer also need to be properly covered, which can be done with an individual policy. Note: It’s important to make sure the individual policy will cover volunteer situations. Even if free clinics offer sovereign immunity, someone can sue, and the nurse will need a lawyer to help with the defense process. Policies, however, do not cover actions outside of the nurses’ scope of practice.

Individual Professional Liability insurance provides added protection for nurses.  It can be obtained for a very reasonable annual premium charge and is well worth obtaining.  Nurses Services Organization (NSO) offers comprehensive, affordable policies that provide portable coverage so a nurse is protected wherever he or she goes.

At Manchester Specialty Programs, as leading insurance specialists in the home health care and hospice industry, we provide a wide range of coverages including Entity Professional Liability, General Liability, Non-Owned & Hired Auto, Management Liability, Regulatory Audit Coverage, Cyber Liability, and Workers’ Compensation. For more information about our business and insurance lines, you or your local agent/broker may contact us at 855.972.9399.