Thanks to medical liability lawsuit reforms that were advocated by the Texas Medical Association in 2003, physicians today have much less to worry about from spurious or overinflated malpractice lawsuits. However, as a physician, you are still facing a potentially devastating risk from a different source. Personal liability lawsuits are commonplace, and your malpractice and business liability insurance does not protect you outside of your professional life. There are several areas where you could be at risk of a personal liability lawsuit.
Auto Accident Liability
Physicians often have long commutes, work long hours, and may be fatigued and/or distracted while driving. This increases the likelihood of being involved in or responsible for an automobile accident. In 2015 alone, there were 518,577 auto accidents in Texas.
In Texas, the minimum liability limits are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is called 30/60/25 coverage. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the average economic loss per vehicle crash is $72,891. Clearly, the potential for loss can be much higher than the minimum coverage required by law. Consider, too, that though Texas law imposes restrictions on punitive damages in auto accidents, those restrictions do not apply to medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering. It’s easy to see why even generous auto liability insurance may not be enough to truly protect you. If you carry an umbrella policy, you will be protected against any catastrophic financial loss in the event of a lawsuit.
Responsible homeowners carry an insurance policy to protect their property in the event of fire, theft, or other loss. But if a house guest or worker is injured on your property, your homeowners insurance may not offer enough coverage to protect you, and may leave your assets vulnerable to a lawsuit. The typical homeowner’s policy only provides $100,000 of liability protection. If you carry an umbrella policy, your coverage is extended, and your assets are protected: your children’s college fund, your retirement savings, your home itself.
Rental Property Liability
Some physicians may own investment properties. If a tenant, child or guest gets injured and they decide to file a lawsuit, what then? Your homeowners insurance may not offer enough protection to cover medical bills and legal fees. What would happen to the assets you’ve worked so hard to build? An umbrella policy extends your coverage beyond the limits of your homeowners policy. This added coverage protects you in the case of a lawsuit.
Today we are living in a lawsuit-happy world. As a physician, your income and assets can make you a highly attractive target for a lawsuit. Your perceived net worth could drive demands for higher settlements or jury awards. Just as malpractice insurance protects you at work, your umbrella policy protects you outside of work if someone decides to go after you in court.
Benefits of Umbrella Insurance
• Comprehensive - When life’s storms approach, umbrella protection covers you and your assets. When your auto, home, or other insurance policy has reached its limit, umbrella insurance goes above and beyond and keeps your assets safe; including your home, retirement savings, and children’s college fund.
• Flexible - Because you as a physician can be an appealing target for a lawsuit, consider the impact it would have on your life. More is at stake than the potential monetary award. Even a dismissed lawsuit could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, lost income, and other costs.
• Affordable - For the security it provides, umbrella insurance is one of the most cost-effective protections available. In most cases, one million dollars of coverage can cost only a few hundred dollars a year. Discounts are available that reduce the cost even more.
Every physician can surely benefit from umbrella insurance as an added layer of protection. However, you may have many questions. How much coverage do you need? How much will it cost? How can you know which policy is best? As a TMA member, you don’t have to navigate these questions on your own. Our licensed, experienced advisors are ready to help you get the protection you need. Give us a call today.
For over 60 years, TMA Insurance Trust advisors have been serving Texas physicians, their families and staff. TMA Insurance Trust prides itself on offering unbiased information and strategies to members, along with exclusive group rates on a range of the highest-rated plans in the industry.