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Monthly Archives: December 2013

If you have a potential medical malpractice claim, should you report it to your medical malpractice insurance company or not?


Physicians and surgeons in Florida often hesitate to report potential claims to their medical malpractice insurance carrier because they are afraid their insurance will be cancelled or they will lose their claims free credits. Although this issue is certainly subjective, i.e. what is worth reporting to the carrier, we strongly encourage our clients to report any incident that may lead to a claim. A quality medical malpractice insurance policy is written with an “incident trigger”, meaning that the company will defend any incidents reported during the policy term. This applies even if the physician or surgeon has switched to another medical malpractice insurer, has gone “bare”, or is deceased.
Most medical malpractice insurers require the insured doctor report incidents that are reasonably expected to lead to claims. The definition of what is reasonable is usually rather vague. In addition, the insurer will require that the insured not engage in conduct that prejudices the insurance company’s ability to defend a claim. Failure to give timely notice could be seen as prejudicing the claim.

The question of when an outcome is likely to lead to a claim is very subjective. Generally, if a patient makes statements that lead the physician or surgeon to believe a claim will result should be reported. If a patient requests records following a bad outcome, this could raise a red flag. Clearly, if the physician or surgeon receives a request for records from a plaintiff’s attorney in connection with a questionable outcome, there is a duty to report the incident to the medical malpractice carrier. Healthcare providers need to exercise good judgment in evaluating the decision to report or not report bad outcomes.
There is, of course, a downside to reporting all negative outcomes. Even if a physician or surgeon never has an actual claim, reporting too many negative incidents could jeopardize his ability to secure medical malpractice insurance in the standard market from a quality company. Sometimes a doctor may be advised to “dump” every bad outcome to the incident trigger medical malpractice insurance company he is leaving. While this “dumping” practice may seem like a good idea at the time, it could very well come back to bite the doctor in the future. Most applications for new business ask about incidents that have been reported to a prior company.

It is probably best to call our office if you have a question as to whether or not to report an incident to your medical malpractice insurance carrier. We generally believe that, if the incident is serious enough for the doctor to call, it should be reported.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.

If you have a potential dental malpractice claim, do you report it to your dental malpractice insurance company or not?


Dentists in Florida often hesitate to report a potential claim to their dental malpractice insurance company. They are either afraid that their malpractice insurance policy will be cancelled or they fear losing their claims-free credits. They may be concerned about their reputation or their ability to find work. We certainly understand a dentist’s reluctance to report a potential claim to his malpractice insurance carrier. In spite of this, we strongly encourage him to report it. A quality dental malpractice insurance policy is written with an “incident trigger”, meaning that the company will defend any incidents reported to it during the policy term. This applies even if the dentist has moved to another dental malpractice insurance carrier, has dropped his coverage, or is retired.

Most dental malpractice insurance policies require that the insured dentist report incidents that are reasonably expected to lead to a claim and must report the incident in a timely manner. Of course, the definition of what is “reasonably” expected to lead to a claim is vague. They still need to err on the side of reporting it. The dental malpractice insurance policy goes on to require that the insured not engage in conduct that prejudices the company’s ability to defend a claim. Failure by the dentist to give timely notice to the carrier could well be seen as prejudicing the claim.

If the patient of a dentist makes comments that would cause the dentist to believe a claim could result, the company should be notified. If a patient requests records following an unintended outcome, this could raise a red flag. Certainly, if the insured dentist receives a request for records from a plaintiff attorney’s office in connection with a bad outcome, a red flag is raised and the dentist should report the incident to the dental malpractice insurance carrier right away.

We have seen cases where the dental malpractice insurance carrier has been able to help the dentist avoid a claim if contacted immediately following an adverse outcome. The defense team in the claims department is skilled in helping the dentist secure the best possible outcome. Often, this simply involves interacting with the patient in an empathetic, responsible, timely manner.

Of course, there is a downside to reporting all incidents that could theoretically lead to an actual claim. Too much reporting could jeopardize a dentist’s ability to keep quality coverage. If he is non-renewed by a dental malpractice insurance carrier, it will be difficult for him to secure coverage in the standard market.

It is best to call our office and discuss your particular situation with an experienced dental malpractice insurance agent.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.

Medical Malpractice Insurance for Locum Tenens


As medical malpractice insurance specialists for physicians in Florida, we are constantly asked about coverage for locum tenens. It is easy to overlook the malpractice insurance implications of working as a locum tenens.

What does locum tenens mean?

Locum tenens literally means “place holder”. A locum tenens physician is one who temporarily works in the place of the regular physician while that physician is absent. A locum tenens doctor allows for continuity of patient care when the office has an increased patient load or if a physician is away due to CME, sabbatical, vacation or illness. His patients continue to be cared for and he does not lose his valuable revenue stream.

Why locum tenens?

Choosing to practice as a locum tenens can be attractive to a physician at any stage in his career. A first year physician can try out a variety of practice styles and geographic locations before committing to something permanent. Physicians in the middle of their career can test different areas and bridge the gap in income. Mature physicians can scale back their practices without fully retiring.

Don’t forget about medical malpractice insurance.

A locum tenens physician should carefully consider the medical malpractice insurance implications of accepting a temporary position.

Florida medical malpractice insurance policies can be endorsed to extend coverage to an approved locum tenens physician. By “approved”, we mean that the name insured doctor needs to notify his medical malpractice insurer of the name of the locum tenens doctor and the dates when he or she will be practicing in his place. Some medical malpractice insurance companies require an extensive review of the qualifications of the locum and some do not, as long as the locum is of the same specialty, has a valid Florida license and has an approved claims history.

Do I need to purchase malpractice insurance if I am going through a placement agency?

If you are securing a locum tenens through a placement organization, that company may well provide coverage for the locum tenens. This is one of the main things you should check if using a placement company.

“Tail” issues for locum tenens.

It is important to check the tail requirements if the main physician carries a claims-made medical malpractice insurance policy. There is no problem if the primary physician keeps continuous coverage. If, however, he drops it and fails to purchase a tail policy, there may not be coverage for the locum. And, when the primary physician retires, gets a free tail, and then re-enters practice as a locum tenens, there may be a problem with that free tail. Our office highly recommends that the doctor check with his medical malpractice carrier and secure approval, in writing, if he decides to go back into practice as a locum tenens after retirement.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.

Healthcare Facilities and Long Term Care


Gracey-Backer has quality markets for comprehensive insurance programs for healthcare facilities of all kinds throughout the state of Florida. Because quality companies compete for your business, our skilled agents are able to offer you optimal pricing and value.

Our agency offers quality products to the following types of facilities:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Surgery and Ambulatory Care Centers
  • Long term care facilities
  • Regional Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Adult Day Care Centers, among others

Gracey-Backer, Inc. has years of experience in writing all lines of insurance, including professional liability, property, workers’ compensation, flood, umbrella and excess liability, business auto. We are not afraid to shop your coverages every year to keep up with market trends.

Please call us at 800-272-6055 for a no-obligation consultation on your facility’s needs.

I am a Florida Dentist. I don’t need to buy Cyber Liability and Data Security insurance because I can take care of a breach myself!


While you can certainly tackle a data breach yourself, the chances are you will not want to invest the time. For example, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that it takes an average of 400 hours to correct a single identity theft. This is valuable time that you can better spend tending to your business. In addition to time required to fix a cyber breach, you must act quickly so your business is not adversely affected. It is far wiser to pick up the phone and call the company that provides your Cyber Liability and Data Security Insurance to remedy a data breach situation.

How does a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy protect Florida doctors against third party claims?


The potential for committing libel or slander against someone else is greatly increased by the advent of the internet. With so much publication on the internet, there is greater than ever chance of being accused of plagiarism. Florida healthcare providers can, without knowing it, inadvertently release patient or employee information which should be kept private. Even if someone hacks into your system and does damage to a third party, you can still be held responsible because you did not take adequate precautions to prevent the hack.

A Florida Cyber Liability Insurance Policy provides defense protection and will indemnify the insured if he is sued by a third party who has suffered damages caused by any of the above situations.

Why do I need Cyber Liability Insurance since I have general liability coverage for my web site activity?


A healthcare provider in Florida has significant exposure to data breaches and cannot rely on his general liability policy to protect him. The reason: exclusions in the policy for injury “arising out of the infringement of copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property rights”. Also in the policy is an exclusion under the “Personal and advertising injury” section for injury arising out of an electronic chat room or bulletin board of the insured hosts, owns, or over which the insured exercises control.” This would exclude social networking and blogging.

In Florida, a cyber liability policy is meant to fill in the gaps created by these exclusions. Coverage on a Florida cyber liability policy is provided for “libel, slander, infringement of copyright, domain name, trademark, trade name, trade dress, logo, title, metatag, slogan, service mark or service name when arising from Web site activity, including social networking and blogging.”

So, a doctor cannot rely on the personal and advertising injury coverage section of this general liability policy to protect him from data breaches. He needs to purchase a cyber liability policy.

Cyber Liability Insurance for the Florida Healthcare Provider


Cyber Liability insurance is very important for all Florida healthcare providers, regardless of size, specialty, or location in Florida. Florida physician and dental offices are especially vulnerable to a cyber liability loss because they deal with health-related information. Cyber liability claims are on the rise in Florida, robbing Florida patients of their privacy, exacerbating medical identity theft, and costing Florida doctors billions of dollars annually. Cyber liability breaches are costly to Florida doctors—fines, penalties and cyber legal costs, responding to cyber victims, and cyber credit monitoring for victims.

Cyber liability breaches in Florida occur in many ways: Lost or stolen files, hacking attacks, improper disclosure of sensitive information, and lack of proper disposal of sensitive documents.

In Florida, cyber liability insurance accomplishes three things:

  • Cyber liability risk management to help the Florida doctor become legally compliant and strengthen their privacy and security programs.
  • Cyber breach response services: If a Florida doctor has a cyber liability breach, he can pick up the phone and call the company for help. The rest is handled by the company.
  • Insures against cyber liability breach costs, which can run into the millions of dollars. Included in cyber liability insurance in Florida are defense costs, coverage for regulatory fines and penalties, notification costs, credit monitoring costs, and public relations for damaged reputations.

Remember that cyber liability coverage is excluded by Florida property and malpractice insurance policies.

The universe of potential cyber liability plaintiffs is overwhelming to the Florida practitioner, when one considers the number of people and organizations on the internet.

Why do I need Florida Cyber liability and Data Security Coverage, since I do not hold personal information?


Even if you do not hold personal security information, your business is still vulnerable to a data breach. Even if you use a third party to store patient information, you are still the “data owner” and are legally required to notify patients of a breach. While you may take credit cards but not store them, your practice may still be the victim of increasingly sophisticated hackers who are able to skim off credit card information. And, if you have employees, you are more than likely holding their personal information. Personal information does not have to be in electronic form to be exposed; paper information is a significant risk in storage or disposal.

Cyber liability insurance protects the Florida healthcare provider by covering:

  • Expenses related to notifying patients following a data breach;
  • Lawsuits stemming from a data breach; and
  • Breaches of employee data and paper files.

So all Florida businesses that deal with any type of personal data, or has a presence on the internet or social media, need to seriously consider purchasing cyber liability insurance.

Extended reporting endorsement or “Tail” coverage on a Physician and Surgeon Medical Malpractice Insurance Policy


An extended reporting endorsement (also known as a Tail policy) is customarily purchased when a physician or surgeon terminates a claims-made medical malpractice insurance policy for any reason. It is purchased from the medical malpractice insurance carrier that provided the most recent coverage. The tail policy allows the physician or surgeon to continue reporting claims for work done while the physician or surgeon was insured under the policy. In most cases, the physician and surgeon tail policy is provided at no charge in the event of death, disability, or retirement from the practice of medicine. For example, if the physician or surgeon had a claims-made policy in effect in 2010, but canceled it in 2011, and subsequently, in 2012 a claim is made against the physician or surgeon for an incident that occurred in 2010, the physician or surgeon would be protected for this claim if a tail policy was in effect.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.

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