Provider Insurance: Convenience or Necessity?

By David Givot

I am often asked whether EMS providers should carry their own professional liability insurance. The short answer is: YES!!!

EMS is the only profession I can think of where the provider places his or her license to practice and livelihood on the line and dares the world to take it away — every shift.

Unlike other walks of life, EMS providers earn a living from the unknown. You never know from minute to minute what is going to happen next. With that comes wondering whether a simple and unpredictable twist of fate will cause your world to come crashing down on you.

For that and dozens of other reasons, I say you can't have too much insurance. Professional liability insurance is relatively inexpensive and offers much needed peace of mind. However, there are a couple of things to consider when buying a policy.

1. Make sure the policy covers legal representation. Some policies only cover damage awards and that won't help when you have spent your life savings to defend yourself.

2. Check to see if the policy will cover all aspects of your job; from malpractice to non-patient care issues like driving or harassment claims.

3. Be clear about how your professional liability policy will effect or be affected by other coverage such as homeowner or automobile insurance.

Another concern is that lawyers often look for insurance when determining who to sue. Unfortunately, that is very common and many providers have told me that is why they won't carry insurance. While that thought process may be logical, it is not entirely practical. If a lawyer decides to come after you because you have insurance, you have insurance for that and your carrier will fight hard not to pay. On the other hand, if something happens and you are not insured, you could find yourself living a country song when you lose your job, your truck, your house...and maybe your dog.

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