Choosing an Extended Reporting Period (ERP) policy, or “tail coverage”, is one of the most important — and complicated — decisions surgeons must make when changing employers or transitioning to private practice.

As a Florida surgeon, you also must understand how Florida’s statutes of limitations in malpractice cases and other factors could affect your choice of tail malpractice coverage.

This is where an independent medical malpractice insurance broker’s expertise is crucial. Independent insurance brokers are experts in finding the best tail insurance options and rates from “A” rated carriers that also meet the needs of specific employment situations and surgical specialties.

We asked our team of insurance brokers to list the most commonly asked questions we get about tail insurance from Florida surgeons – plus give you the answers to help you get ready for a personalized consultation with SURGPLI.

1. Why do I need tail insurance?

When the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the state’s malpractice damage caps for economic and non-economic damages were unconstitutional, Florida surgeons without adequate malpractice coverage became much more vulnerable to severe financial loss in cases found for the plaintiff.

That’s one important reason why surgeons need tail insurance – to protect you from personal liability for any future malpractice claims made on incidents that occurred during your previous employment in Florida.

Your employer-provided malpractice coverage ends on the last day of your employment. If that policy was underwritten on a claims-made basis, as most are, you would be exposed to a lawsuit if a former patient files a claim against you before your new policy at your next employer or private practice goes into effect.

Tail insurance provides retroactive malpractice coverage for any claims made on incidents occurring from the first date of employment with your former employer.

2. When do I need to obtain tail coverage?

The best thing to do is to speak with a SURGPLI insurance broker about tail coverage options BEFORE you resign from your current job (and your employer’s malpractice policy expires). That way, you’ll be assured that your tail policy goes into effect immediately after your previous policy ends.

Typical scenarios that drive the need for tail coverage include:

  • Changing employment from one Florida-based hospital or medical group to another.
  • Transitioning from Florida-based employment to opening a private practice.
  • Moving from Florida to a different state for employment or to open a private practice.

Your SURGPLI insurance broker will always consider your individual employment situation when recommending options for tail policies and carriers.

3. My new employment is located in Florida. How do Florida’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims affect what tail insurance will cover?

Lifetime tail coverage policies are available, and although more expensive than annual policies with specific end dates, you may want the peace of mind of continuing coverage.

An independent insurance broker will work with you to determine the length of tail coverage that provides the best protection in light of Florida’s current statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims listed below – and meets your comfort zone for risk:

  • 2 years – Ordinary negligence carries a statute of limitation of two years from the date the harm from the malpractice was discovered or could reasonably have been discovered.
  • 4 years – The statute of limitations might be extended to four years in cases where the injury was not immediately discoverable.
  • 7 years – For cases that involve intentional misrepresentation, concealment or fraud, the statute of limitations is seven years.
  • 8 years – For minors, the statute of limitations is different. When an action is being brought on behalf of a minor child, a medical malpractice claim may be filed up until the child’s eighth birthday.

4. My new employment is located in another state. Will a tail policy cover me for claims made on incidents that occurred during the time I practiced in Florida?

Yes. Tail coverage is retroactive from the first date of employment with your former employer, regardless of the location of your new job.

For example, say you started working for a Florida clinic on March 1, 2017. Your last day of employment and employer-provided malpractice coverage was January 15, 2023. You now practice at a hospital in Illinois. On June 1, 2023, a former patient files a malpractice claim regarding an incident that occurred in 2021 while you were practicing in Florida. Your tail policy would cover that claim.

5. I’m moving from Florida to practice in a state that doesn’t require malpractice insurance. Do I still need tail coverage, and if so, why?

Even in states that don’t mandate medical malpractice insurance, it is always in the best interest of Florida surgeons to have a medical liability policy to protect against the likelihood of being sued.

Why? If convicted in a lawsuit, you could face devastating financial losses since Florida does not cap the amount of compensation that can be awarded for non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims. So yes, you would still need tail coverage to manage the financial risk of having a claim made against you for an incident that happened during the time you worked for your former employer in Florida.

Consider the following example of a surgeon who changes employers, but does not have tail coverage:

In 2022, a claim is brought against the surgeon for an incident that happened while working for the previous employer in 2015. Because there is no tail coverage in place, the surgeon is personally liable for paying all of the legal costs and indemnity payouts at trial.

A tail policy would have covered that claim, and legal defense would have been provided by the carrier.

6. Tail insurance offered by my soon-to-be previous employer is very expensive! How can I get a better rate?

The cost of tail insurance is typically 200% of the yearly premium you were paying for your policy at your previous job. However, SURGPLI can give you many more options than your former employer’s tail insurance plan.

Our independent medical malpractice insurance brokers have helped Florida surgeons save significantly on tail coverage. We give you our best recommendations of carriers and policies that best fit the needs of your specialty and practice environment. Your SURGPLI insurance broker will do all of the research for you to find competitive rates from “A” rated carriers with a stellar track record for defending their policyholders in malpractice cases.

7. I need tail insurance now. What are my best options?

SURGPLI insurance brokers are ready to answer your questions and more! If you are a Florida surgeon planning to change employers or start a private practice, don’t wait. We can help you secure the right tail coverage and rates for your employment situation and specialty.

Get a free tail insurance evaluation from SURGPLI now.

Get a fast quote for tail insurance or call 1-800-969-1339

SURGPLI is a division of MEDPLI, an independent insurance brokerage that specializes in making medical malpractice insurance simple for doctors.

Max Schloemann

About the Author

Max Schloemann is a medical malpractice insurance broker, focused on helping physicians secure Medical Professional Liability coverage. He helps Doctors and Surgeons, as well as Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and healthcare entrepreneurs launch new medical practices across the country. Max graduated Magna cum Laude from Southern Illinois University College of Business and was named the Outstanding Management Senior. Max’s career in medical malpractice insurance began in 2008 with an industry-leading firm. Max founded SURGPLI in 2023 to help surgeons navigate the complexities of medical malpractice insurance in the new era of healthcare. Max’s wife, Kristen, a Physician Assistant, and their 4 kids (plus 1 dog) enjoy hiking, golf, and cooking.

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