Marsh Affinity Group Services' Professional Liability Insurance
By Jane Oppermann

1440 Renaissance Drive
Park Ridge, IL 60068-1400
800-621-3008 x 45105
312-427-1441 x 45015
A nurse practitioner we know calls it sleep insurance. Another considers it as reputation preservation and one of the best investments she can make. Yet another nurse practitioner says it's like having an attorney on-call.

Professional liability insurance means different things to healthcare professionals. Facing distinct risks in their jobs, all share one thing, however: a need to protect themselves from the frightening prospect of malpractice suits.

Changing some of the facts to protect client confidentiality, we've collected a few cases from our files to illustrate how easily even the best professionals can become embroiled in malpractice claims. Marsh Affinity Group Services' professional liability coverage was there for each of these clients. Our clients knew that their policies would pay for the cost of expert legal defense, as well as costs incurred in the defense or investigation. Guiding them through legal proceedings, paying lost work time, advising and representing them if licensing board issues were involved, then finally paying court costs and settlements, these clients counted on Marsh Affinity Group Services' vast experience in professional liability coverage.

A nurse working in a perinatal clinic was not initially named in a claim against a doctor and hospital for the death of a newborn. The nurse's deposition, however, incriminated her and she was subsequently named in the suit. While the doctor and hospital settled before the case went to trial, the nurse was involved in drawn-out court proceedings. She was eventually found not guilty, cold comfort during that difficult trial. Though her colleagues did not stand behind her, Marsh Affinity Group Services did. Defense costs totaled $328,000 and were paid by her professional liability insurance coverage.

A nurse practitioner, working as an independent contractor for a geriatric physician, did appropriate morning work-ups for a patient in a nursing home. The patient showed no ill effects and the nurse left feeling comfortable with the patient's condition. Later in the day the patient became more symptomatic and developed a bleed in the brain. Because she was not an employee of the physician, the nurse was not covered under his policy. She and the nursing home are being named in the suit.

A lawsuit brings with it significant losses, not only in time and money, but also in one of the most valuable commodities a professional possesses - self-confidence. Defending oneself consumes time, money and one's thoughts. Defendants lose valuable work time as cases drag on for months or even years. During that time a professional's confidence may be needlessly shaken or they may experience anxiety which can significantly impinge work performance.

Assuming an employer's liability coverage is sufficient protection can be risky. Your employer's coverage may provide only limited protection for acts on behalf of your employer only. And, because coverage levels are often shared with other parties, protection may be inadequate. By purchasing your own coverage, you can afford a defense by attorney and claims experts who protect your interests alone.

Also, with times changing as they are, you need the comfort in knowing that you are covered regardless of your employment status. Marsh Affinity Group Service's Plan is extremely portable. Whether you are working at a major hospital or moonlighting at a local nursing home, your coverage will be there.

There is little doubt that today's healthcare world has created incredible stresses on its professionals. Both the ANA and health experts have documented that fact. Last year the American Nurses Association reported that 70 percent of the nurse practitioners surveyed were concerned about the acute and chronic effects of stress and work. A survey published in last year's May/June issue of Health Affairs reported that 43 percent of nurses in the U.S. score in the "burnout" range on stress levels. Concerned over case overload, staffing cutbacks, increased usage of support employees, and frustrated with lack of support from administration, NPs are worried…about patient safety and their own safety. An aging population will require complex treatment utilizing increasingly advanced technology. Couple that with an anticipated nursing shortage and you've got even greater liability risk.

Most everyone is aware of liability risks in this litigious society. A better-informed public, aware of clients' rights and the potential to recover costs and damages and perhaps embittered by the managed care environment, are often encouraged to bring suit against healthcare professionals. Informed healthcare professionals are even more aware of their vulnerability to liability issues every workday. They face increased risk exposure as more go into private practice, cope with cross-training requirements, as well as the use of new technology. Whether claims are frivolous or fact, however, simply being named in a claim has significant emotional and financial expenses.

Marsh Affinity Group Services has designed a professional liability insurance program that addresses all your concerns, tailoring coverage to each profession. And because of strong member participation, we are able to offer comprehensive coverage at a reasonable cost. In addition, a 10% risk management premium credit is available for those professionals who participate in an approved risk management program or seminar or hold ANCC, CCRN, CNOR, CPNP, CRFNA, CRRN, LNCC, OCN, ONCC, or CCNS certification (Additional information on this Risk Management program can be found at: -- scroll down to "Free--Risk Management").

You can choose coverage limits you feel most comfortable carrying. Whether you are employed full or part time, the policy is in force 24 hours a day, without interruption of coverage even during a job change. Licensing board hearing costs are also covered, as are loss of earnings if your attendance at a trial, hearing or arbitration proceeding is required. A new feature also includes expense reimbursement for legal representation for depositions related to your professional duties even if you are not named in a suit, but are required to provide testimony in a deposition.

Because of Marsh Affinity Group Services' long-standing reputation in the insurance industry, we are able to offer insurance plans underwritten by respected and stable insurance colleagues like the Chicago Insurance Company. The Chicago Insurance Company provides comprehensive, leading-edge protection you can depend on in any economy.

Updated March 13, 2002