Why Should I Carry Professional Liability Coverage?

We hear this question on a regular basis.  We hear many reasons why a pharmacist or pharmacy owner does not feel it is necessary to have a personal policy.  Think about the principle of auto insurance.  We know we insure our own car, but sometimes the problem is whether the other driver has insurance.

The personal professional liability policy with Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company (PHMIC) has a lot to offer.  Do you know if your employer provides coverage if you have a misfilled prescription?  Our personal policy is designed to be an excess policy.  However, if your employer does not or won’t provide coverage, your personal policy with us can act as a primary policy, provided the incident falls within covered activities. Any claim is subject to what is covered by the policy.

Generally, coverage provided by your employer only covers the time you are at work.  The personal professional liability policy with PHMIC covers you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  For example, you run into a friend at a wedding and they ask for medication advice or suggestions.  What over-the-counter medication could they try to help with the dizziness they are experiencing?  You suggest an anti-motion type of product.  What they failed to tell you is that they are going on a trip and will be driving extended hours.  Did you suggest that your friend try a non-drowsy product or not?  This person gets into an auto accident because they were drowsy when driving.  Your employer would likely not provide coverage since the advice wasn’t given while you were on duty as their employee; however, your policy with PHMIC would likely provide coverage since you were providing information within the scope of practice.

Another instance a personal professional liability policy would be beneficial is an error that results in a claim so large that it exhausts your employer’s professional liability limits.  With large settlements there is good chance that the focus may turn to any other involved party involved in the matter for contribution.  Most people do not want to have concerns with the possibility of personally contributing to a settlement.  Your personal professional liability policy with Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company can provide coverage for an amount that exceeds your employer’s policy limit.  The basic personal professional liability policy with PHMIC has limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 per aggregate, at a very affordable price.

In the event of a misfilled prescription resulting in a claim, disciplinary action may result from the board of pharmacy. I will start with a scenario where your employer provided coverage for the claim.  The employer’s insurance company is able to resolve the claim within their policy limits and you are protected and included in the release.  You have a feeling of relief because it has been resolved and you can put this past you.  Two months later you receive a letter from the Board of Pharmacy and they want you to appear for a disciplinary hearing.  This is regarding your personal license and is not part of the claim that your employer handled on your behalf.  Your employer likely will not handle this matter or pay for an attorney to assist you with this.  Guess what?  Your personal professional liability policy has $10,000 for you to pay legal fees for an attorney assisting you to defend your license to the Board of Pharmacy.  We always recommend you discuss a Board of Pharmacy matter with an attorney.  Being a pharmacist is your livelihood and an attorney can help to minimize any impacts there may be.  Your policy will not pay fines and penalties imposed by the Board of Pharmacy.  If you call us for assistance we generally can recommend an attorney that has experience in dealing with Board of Pharmacy matters.   Again, any matter is subject to covered activities, but performing duties within the scope of your occupation are typically covered.

Hopefully you never have to make a call to report a claim.  However, if you do, please remember our focus is to help our customers attain peace of mind.  We are here to help if the unthinkable happens and it allows you to focus on being a pharmacist.

If you need additional information about how to protect yourself and your business, contact Pharmacists Mutual Risk Management at riskmgmt@phmic.comcreate new email.

Julie Collison CPhT | Sr. Claims Examiner | Professional Liability Claims Department