Optometrists don’t just dole out eyeglass prescriptions. They examine, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries of the eyes, and often aid in diagnosing and treating patients with diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Optometrists prescribe medications, refer patients for surgery, and can even play a vital role in diagnosing life-threatening conditions.
As technology and the role of optometrists have evolved, so has the number of lawsuits filed against optometrists for treatment mistakes. Every optometrist needs good professional liability insurance — or malpractice insurance — to ensure they have the resources necessary to defend themselves and compensate an injured patient after a lawsuit.
Why Do I Need Optometrist Professional Liability Insurance?
The most qualified and experienced optometrists can make mistakes. If a mistake or negligent care causes harm to a patient, the optometrist can be sued. And frankly, any medical professional can be sued at any time for any reason. Even unfounded lawsuits have to be answered and defended, and your defense will cost a lot of money.
Optometrist professional liability insurance protects you from the risk of malpractice claims and lawsuits. There are many instances in which optometrists can be sued for malpractice, such as:
- Failure to dilate pupil leading to a delayed or incorrect diagnosis
- Failure to properly make a referral or follow-up with a patient leading to a delayed or incorrect diagnosis
- Failure to recommend polycarbonate lenses to a patient who needs greater eye protection (athletes, children, police officers, etc.), resulting in an eye injury
- Failure to perform periodic eye exams for contact lens wearers
- Failing to properly or effectively explain a procedure or medication to a patient with the patient experiencing a negative outcome or side effect that he was unaware of
Defending a malpractice suit is expensive even if you win. Costs may include attorney and expert witness fees, payment of damages if you lose, and other expenses. Optometrist professional liability insurance pays for many of these expenses, so you can avoid financial devastation and continue to practice.
What Does Optometrist Professional Liability Insurance Cover?
Optometrist malpractice insurance allows you to practice with confidence while you protect your livelihood and ability to serve your patients. While it protects your personal and business assets, optometrist professional liability insurance also is usually required in order for you to be affiliated with medical and vision plans.
You will need to work closely with your insurance agent to make sure your policy fits the needs of your optometry practice. Not every type of medical professional needs the same type or amount of coverage. Your optometrist professional liability policy should be tailored to the unique risks you face in your specialty.
In general, your optometrist malpractice insurance should cover you for liability claims arising from negligent or intentionally harmful treatment. Medical malpractice insurance typically excludes coverage for negligence due to illegal conduct, sexual improprieties, factual misrepresentations on the application for insurance, hospital or lab administration, or medical records alteration.
Most malpractice insurance policies specify an individual limit (the most that will be paid for any one claim) and an aggregate limit (the most that will be paid in any policy year for all claims). So if your policy has limits of $1,000,000/$3,000,000, this means it will pay a maximum of $1 million per claim and $3 million for all claims during a policy term.
There are two types of medical professional liability policies: claims-made policies and occurrence policies. Both types of policies are very complex. You need to know how each one works and pays claims, and then purchase the one that works best for your specialty and unique needs.
If you see patients or moonlight outside of your primary practice, you must be sure that your optometrist professional liability insurance covers you for your specific moonlighting situation.
Most healthcare professionals purchase and keep the same malpractice insurance for the life of their practice. Optometrist malpractice insurance is very complicated with a lot of variations.
Be sure to understand your policy and the implications of making changes to it over time.
When you are looking for optometrist professional liability insurance, be sure to select a financially strong insurance company that will be around for as long as you intend to practice.
It is best to work with an independent insurance agent to who can help you compare optometrist professional liability policies and companies, read and understand the terms, and make an informed decision.
How Much Does Optometrist Professional Liability Insurance Cost?
Fortunately, optometrist professional liability insurance usually costs less than malpractice insurance for many other medical specialties. It may cost only $500 - $800 per year, but costs will vary depending on the state in which you practice, the insurance company you choose, and your coverage limits. The higher your coverage limits, the more you will pay.
Find and Compare Quotes
Optometrists need specialized professional liability coverage for the specific and unique risks they face. It’s important to work with an independent agent who can find insurance companies who specialize in covering your specific professional liability risks, and who sell malpractice insurance specifically designed for optometrists.
An independent insurance agent can help you find the right policy and can help you assess your options.
Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Our agents simplify the search process for finding the right professional liability insurance for optometrists. They’ll walk you through the handpicked policy options and explain the details.
Your agent can provide one-on-one consultation and tailored coverage options for your unique needs.