As a medical professional, medical malpractice tail coverage can save you from potential bankruptcy, especially if you practice in Kentucky. Most states limit how much a plaintiff can collect in malpractice suits, but Kentucky does not. With tail coverage, you can financially protect yourself after leaving your job in the event past errors or omissions cause an issue. 

Malpractice tail coverage protects medical experts from future lawsuits arising from past professional errors or omissions. It should cover you from the last day of your employment to when the state’s statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims ends. It’s one year for Kentucky, but it varies for other states.

Let’s take this opportunity to discuss the importance of malpractice tail coverage and what it covers in more detail. We’ll also get into how it works and how much it costs.  

Understanding Malpractice Tail Coverage

The simplest way to think of tail coverage is as an extension of your malpractice liability insurance policy. Most medical professionals carry this type of insurance, so their past mistakes don’t bankrupt them. 

When you leave a job, and your malpractice policy ends, you will no longer be protected against future lawsuits for past incidents. So, malpractice tail coverage is a safety net to cover these gaps. 

Ideally, it should cover all incidents that occurred during your employment. Fortunately, the statute of limitations protects you from never-ending lawsuits, and malpractice tail coverage usually aligns with these timeframes. 

Therefore, you don’t have to pay a lifetime’s worth of premiums for tail coverage. Instead, you typically only need to pay a one-time premium that covers the desired length of time, depending on your state’s statute of limitations.

How Is Tail Coverage Different from Traditional Malpractice Insurance?

Tail coverage differs from traditional malpractice insurance in a few key ways. First, it is designed specifically for medical professionals leaving a position and needing continued coverage. 

Secondly, tail coverage only covers past incidents that occurred while you were insured under your previous policy. It does not cover any future incidents that may arise after the policy ends. 

Thirdly, unlike traditional malpractice insurance, which is paid on an ongoing basis, tail coverage is typically paid as a one-time premium.

How Long Does Malpractice Tail Coverage Last?

The length of time tail coverage provides protection varies depending on your state’s statute of limitations. In most cases, it will cover past incidents for two years. In Kentucky, patients have up to one year only to bring forward a malpractice lawsuit. 

In contrast, some states, like Maine, have longer statutes of limitations for medical malpractice, giving patients up to three years to file a suit

How Does Statute of Limitations Affect Tail Coverage Costs

Some insurers allow you to pick how many years of coverage you want, while others may only offer one or two-year increments. If your state’s statute of limitations is two years, most insurers demand you pay a sum worth twice your annual premium. 

For example, if your annual malpractice insurance premium is $10,000, purchasing two-year tail coverage would cost you around $20,000.

But in Kentucky, you only need a year’s worth of premium to purchase tail coverage. Therefore, tail coverage costs vary depending on your state’s statute of limitations and the duration you choose to purchase. 

We don’t recommend opting for partial malpractice tail coverage. Suppose your state has a 3-year statute of limitations; it’s risky to pay for two years and riskier to pay for one year. Should a claim arise after your tail coverage expires, you will not be covered and must foot the legal expenses solo. 

Another factor that affects malpractice coverage cost is the type of healthcare profession. Note that different medical specialties come with different malpractice risk profiles.

For example, neurosurgeons and obstetricians have a higher risk of being sued for malpractice than primary care physicians. They handle more complex and high-risk procedures, which increases their chances of facing malpractice claims. 

In contrast, physicians who perform lower-risk procedures, such as dermatologists or psychiatrists, may have lower malpractice insurance costs. 

More on Malpractice Tail Coverage Cost

Your personal claims history and risk management practices also affect your tail coverage premiums. If you have a history of facing multiple malpractice claims, insurers may consider you at a higher risk and increase your premium rates. 

The same applies if you’re leaving your job due to a malpractice claim or disciplinary action. Insurers will view you as a higher risk and may charge you more for coverage. 

Conversely, you may be eligible for discounts on your malpractice insurance rates if you:

  • Have a clean claims history.
  • Practice good risk management strategies. 
  • Choose a higher deductible, which means you’ll pay more out-of-pocket in case of a claim but could save on premium costs.

For example, attending risk management seminars or implementing patient safety protocols can show insurers you’re less likely to face malpractice claims.

Assessing the Benefits of Malpractice Tail Coverage

The main benefit of purchasing tail coverage is the peace of mind it provides. You don’t have to worry about any potential claims from past patients. Incidents that occurred while you were practicing at your previous job will still be covered, even after you’ve left. 

You always want to protect your personal assets and reputation as a healthcare provider, and tail coverage ensures any past claims won’t affect you financially or professionally. 

Another advantage of tail coverage is that it allows you to easily switch jobs without fearing losing your malpractice insurance coverage. You can focus on finding the best job opportunity for your career without worrying about any potential gaps in coverage.

Moreover, some states require healthcare providers to have tail coverage to maintain their medical licenses. Without it, you may face penalties or even lose your license, hindering your ability to practice medicine.

In addition, having tail coverage can also attract potential employers. They may be impressed by your proactive approach to protecting yourself against potential malpractice claims.

How to Obtain Malpractice Tail Coverage

If you decide to purchase tail coverage, you can obtain it from your current malpractice insurance provider. They may offer a discount for purchasing tail coverage with them, as they already have all the necessary information about your past claims and medical history.

You can negotiate with your employers to cover the cost of tail coverage as part of your employment contract. It’s easier for them to arrange it for you with their malpractice insurance provider, and it can also serve as a sign of goodwill towards their employees.

Another option is to purchase tail coverage from a different insurance company. It’s important to research and compare different providers to find the best coverage at the most affordable price.

Final Thoughts on Medical Malpractice Tail Coverage

As we said, tail coverage shouldn’t amuse you if you already know how medical malpractice insurance works. But it’s important to understand the risks and potential consequences of not having it, especially if you plan on changing jobs or retiring.

Take proactive measures and secure tail coverage. But to get yourself the best tail coverage, start by reading these tips for choosing malpractice insurance for medical practitioners.