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Professional liability insurance

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Pragma, Dec 8, 2012.

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  1. Pragma

    Pragma

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    So, for those that don't know, I work in an academic setting and don't see patients day-to-day, but am joining up with a private practice in the near future to do some part time clinical work.

    As I went through my information gathering phase (my grad school didn't have a "Business of Psychology" class or anything), I noticed that I knew very little about malpractice insurance.

    I checked out the Trust, and noticed that you can get pretty cheap rates initially out of graduate school, but after a few years go by, you are going to be paying at least $700-800 per year (which was actually less than I thought it would be). You can pay about a third less if you only practice part time (less than 20 hours per week). It might seem like a drop in the bucket for those of us who took out loans, but it is still an important cost to consider.

    What I also learned is that academics also take out liability insurance. I already have a policy for that through my institution, but wow - that was a surprise.

    Does anyone have more information about malpractice insurance, either for clinical or academic work? How much does it go up if you get sued (rightfully or wrongfully)?

    This is all new to me, because I was covered in my Ph.D. program and postdoc already, and didn't have to purchase these things on my own until now.
  2. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    You'll want to have tail coverage, though not all tail policies are created equal. There are options that cover you for the present year (like car insurance) and policies that will cover into the future. You can buy policies that current the current year and then add "tail coverage", that basically extends your coverage past the initial timeframe. There can be large differences in coverage and rates, though more expensive rates do not mean you get better coverage. The devil is in the details w. insurance/liability coverage.

    One of the big reasons people join APA is to get access to the malpractice insurance rates. There may be better rates elsewhere, but the APA Trust seems to be a popular choice. Once you have coverage you do not have to maintain your APA membership. Shop around and consider the APA Trust rates + 1 yr membership (this past year APA offered a $100/yr teaser rate instead of the normal rate), as it may be cheaper than an "off the street" rate at another place. Just my 2 cents.

    My employer picks up my coverage, so I don't know much about the actual cost. I'd be interested in hearing what you find, as I might pick up my own coverage for outside consulting gigs.
  3. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    Depending on your relationship with your practice, they might have some guidelines about how much coverage you will need to carry. I'm an independent contractor and my practice told me what I needed to buy in order to join the practice.

    There aren't a ton of options for coverage and, in my experience, rates don't vary much carrier to carrier. Roughly, your 1st yr out you can expect about $200, 2 yrs out $400, and 3 yrs $800 (for FT practice). Mercifully, it levels off after that. This is basically because the more time in practice, the more people out there to potentially sue you.

    IDK about jumps after litigation, and I hope never to find out!

    Fun fact: MSW's pay 1/2 as much. My MSW friend theorizes that this is because psychologists are more arrogant and therefore more likely to practice outside of their scope of competence. :laugh:

    Best,
    Dr. E
  4. Pragma

    Pragma

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    If only reimbursement rates followed a similar logic - then it wouldn't be so frustrating!

    Thanks for all of the input. It is new territory for me.

    I expected around what I have seen for clinical malpractice insurance. I didn't anticipate the need for overage as a professor - but hey, maybe I'll go on a sexting rampage at some point. It does actually make me feel better, because one must be very conservative with students (in my case, especially female students).
  5. Pragma

    Pragma

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  6. MBellows

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  7. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I'll just be doing part time assessment (neuropsych). I am not really concerned about having the highest limits - I'm not doing treatment, per se.
  8. LM02

    LM02 Senior Member

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    I'm on research faculty in a medical school and the university has a large policy for us that covers "research and instruction," which will also cover any clinical work that is delivered as part of a research protocol.

    Where it got thorny for me is that I also supervise at a university-affiliated, but private, hospital where I hold privileges but am not technically employed. I bought the part- time trust coverage as a back-up, but my employer won't reimburse me because they consider it part of my instructional duties that are already covered by their policy. Given the different setting and administrative entities, I just didn't want to take the risk. I don't otherwise do clinical work outside of research or supervision, so it may be overkill to purchase the additional coverage.

    On the other hand, the university is very hesitant to hand out the policy details, which can be a challenge for licensure renewal where they require policy numbers, any future job applications, etc. It has also streamlined some of those processes to just have my own "extra" policy.

    Just some additional thoughts...
  9. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    T4C,

    Are you sure that you do not need to continue to renew APA membership if you have APA Trust insurance? I was under the impression that you did have to do so.

    That and concerns about whether the Trust has a conflict of interest should an issue arise where my best interest and that of the APA is separate (raised by some supervisors who went elsewhere for insurance) made me lean toward American Professional. The rates were comparable. The Trust does have more more comprehensive insurance also available that covers you for a lifetime (even if you retire and let your liability insurance lapse whereas all the cheaper policies will only cover you if you are currently covered at the time of suit regardless of when the actual care took place). However, it is considerably more money and I did not have the funds to spare (something like $1200-1300 vs $130 that I pay now).
  10. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    I have American Professional and I have no complaints about them. Most people in my practice go with them.

    Dr. E
  11. MBellows

    MBellows

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    Doesn't the nature of all insurance indicate an innate conflict of interest between providing paid-for services and their bottom line?
  12. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    You'll want to check with the actual underwriting group, but this is what I was told by someone who did just as I described above. You could also ask the APA, but they have a vested interest in the answer, so it could put the person in an awkward position if the answer is indeed "no, you do not need to be a current member."
  13. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yeah I know you need it to initially sign up, but I'd wonder about renewal as well.
  14. LM02

    LM02 Senior Member

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    You do NOT need to be an APA member to renew the Trust policy. I haven't paid APA dues in years, yet I hold a Trust policy in good standing. Even got my "longevity award" from them last week, for being a consistent member for 5+ years (a whopping $26!).
  15. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Lol, true. However, It was discussed more in the manner of if what is being defended goes against APA's stance on an issue for whatever reason, would there be pressure to do what was best for the APA politically rather than in the best interest of the practitioner.
  16. MFT2015

    MFT2015

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    I see the need to obtain insurance once licensed. Can a student operating under a licensed supervisor be sued by a client?
  17. MBellows

    MBellows

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    A ___ can always be sued by a ___.*

    *Unless there is an arbitration agreement that is well written*
    *Unless the first blank is the government, then you have to get permission from the government first*


    I'm curious though too about what level of legal coverage people working under a supervisor have. I assume a malpractice suit would be aimed at the licensed provider. Any other type of civil suit could probably be aimed at any or all involved.
  18. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    Yes, some level of liability insurance is needed any time you see a client. During your program, your school may cover you (although some people get extra coverage through APA regardless). I was also required to get my own insurance during internship and postdoc.

    The reality is you'd both get sued. :(

    Dr. E
  19. Phipps

    Phipps

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    Thought you were in private practice already!? Below is what you posted on a different occasion...:D

    Pragma
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    What a joke if any program makes you buy it. I am too cheap to buy the WISC/WAIS now and I am a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice. As a student? That is thousands of dollars these days for a WISC/WAIS. You are there to learn, not buy a test that will quickly become outdated.
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  20. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yeah, I joined a private practice a few months back. Did you notice that I started this thread in early December of 2012, noting that I was joining a private practice? You may want to read the first post.

    I dunno, is this a game of "gotcha" or something?
  21. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I'm pretty sure it goes towards the licensed provider. But FWIW, I have heard of a psychometrist being called to testify in court even though it was the primary neuropsychologist that was being sued.
  22. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    I was told that you practice under your supervisor's license and therefore are covered through them.
  23. Doctor Eliza

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    The guy who owns our practice has made the point, and I agree, that if someone is looking to sue, everyone remotely connected to the case will be sued. Although you *shouldn't* be laible, that doesn't mean you won't be sued.

    Also, as someone who is still a student or post-doc, the fee won't be so high. Isn't it worth it for peace of mind and "just in case"?

    Dr. E
  24. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    If so.....*swing and a miss*
  25. Phipps

    Phipps

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    Didn't notice when you posted what, but now realize that your response toward me - again- comes across to me as aggressive. So, I'd better stop participating in any of the postings you are involved in. I was just genuinely interested haha since I don't take myself too serious all the time, it's time for a good laugh and good bye from Pragma discussions
  26. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Okay. Goodbye, I guess.

    Aggression is an interesting thing to look into. You might want to consider the term more closely one of these days. Perhaps one day you will look back at these forums and see some aggression apparent in the posts that you have put forth (such as the one in this thread today), and then recognize logical responses towards that aggression might not reflect aggression - but a response to it.
  27. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Well if I were still a student, I would probably not pay for it if it were up to me. I would be interested in seeing if a student actually got sued at some point when they were working under someone else's license. Testifying is one thing...being a defendant is another. Have you ever seen a student or postdoc get sued?
  28. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza

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    I don't think have seen someone who was a student get sued. But I don't know THAT many students. I never bought it when i was just doing practicum because I was told the university covered us. However, I was required to obtain insurance for internship. It was like $50. Same requirement while accruing post doc hrs, but it was more expensive then. I would think postdocs would be at more risk due to the fact they actually have a degree and are doing more work with less supervision.

    I think it is something people differ on. People like different amounts of insurance for different things in their lives. For example, some people like to get auto insurance that covers everything while some like to just carry the minimum to be able to drive legally.

    People should do what they want, as long as it is in compliance with their school and employer's policies.

    Dr. E
  29. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    Dude...:confused:?
  30. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I am just as confused as you....lol
  31. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    drama queen...
  32. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Yeah, I haven't heard of students getting sued, either, but I have heard of students being subpoenaed (or nearly subpoenaed). I was also told that our university covered us in grad school, and the VA provided blanket liability coverage on internship.

    If you're truly concerned, I would check with your director of clinical training. If they say you're covered, you're probably ok (although again, being insured doesn't necessarily mean you can't be brought into court to testify).
  33. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Neuropsychologist

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    At least for internship and postdoc through the VA system, trainees are covered under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act and do not need to purchase their own.
  34. Balmoral

    Balmoral

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    I believe this only falls under VA work but independent practice outside of VA work would require malpractice insurance I assume? Personally, maybe it's from previously working in CA (one of the more litigious states), a few hundred dollars a year that is deductible is worth it.

    Students are typically covered under the university/training institution (at least where I trained). However, I think a student can still be civilly sued (independent of the institution), depending on who is being charged (e.g., Hospital X, University Y, Supervisor, Z, & Student A). Also, it may be important to find out if there are clauses in plans that may void the policy.
  35. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Yes, the VA's coverage only applies when you're seeing patients as a part of your official VA duties, at least as far as I know.

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