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Insurance 101 for Nurses & APNs

This guide contains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about insurance, especially if you’re an RN, NP, or CRNA.

2019-01-04

Image of a woman walking through a field of daffodils with a blue umbrella
Image via Unsplash.com/Jeremy Bishop

Let’s face it, the work you do as a healthcare professional is heavy — both emotionally and physically. It can also be dangerous. Other than the health, auto, and renters or homeowners insurance you know you need as an adult, there are additional insurance products you should consider based on risks specific to your profession.

We’ll explore insurance options and why they’re important to consider, especially if you own your own business, are self-employed, or just want additional security on top of your employee benefits.

Insurance Options to Consider as a Nurse or APN

Whether you’re a newbie to the profession or a seasoned pro, all nurses and APNs can benefit from certain insurance products. After all, you have to protect yourself if you’re ever injured, and you need to protect your career if a claim is made against you. Consider these options when determining insurance you’ll need during your career.

1) Professional Liability/Medical Malpractice Insurance

Medical malpractice insurance helps protect nurses and APNs from legal battles claiming improper or negligent care. Also referred to as “med mal,” this type of policy typically provides insurance for legal counsel and settlement fees, should you need them. It can also provide coverage for alleged HIPAA violations and for protecting your license under certain circumstances.

If you work for a hospital, clinic, or facility, you may have the option of getting malpractice insurance through your employer. This is a great start, but some people still want their own policy or need “tail” coverage to cover their work at a previous employer. Just be sure your employer’s policy covers things like medical advice you give outside of work or claims filed after you leave. You'll also want to know if the policy provides coverage for your own attorney and lets you control whether you settle a claim or fight it. If it doesn't include these items, you do have the option to get your own malpractice insurance policy to supplement the one you have through your employer — this is what's referred to as "supplemental insurance."

2) Tail Coverage

Tail coverage is an extension plan for your old policy. You might look into getting a tail policy if you change jobs or retire.

3) Short-Term/Long-Term Disability Insurance

If you hurt your hands, back, or really anything else, you might be out of work for a while. Disability insurance is like paycheck insurance. It’s a way to continue getting paid if you’re hurt and out of work.

Policies vary, so it’s important to ask your employer what type of disability insurance they provide to determine if you need to supplement it with an additional plan. Find out how much of your paycheck will be covered and for how long. Also, make sure you know what your options will be if you’re injured off the job rather than on the job. In general:

  • Short-term disability insurance pays a partial amount of your income for a limited amount of time, anywhere from a few weeks to up to one year. This type of insurance kicks in after you have used up all your available sick leave and other time-off options. The amount of income you receive can vary (from not enough to almost your entire paycheck amount) so make sure you know how much is covered.
  • Long-term disability insurance takes over when short-term disability insurance ends. Long-term disability may pay as much as 50 to 60 percent of your paycheck for the number of years indicated in your policy (sometimes up to age 65) or until you are well again and can get back on the job (or any job). If your employer offers long-term coverage (some do not), you will want to know how long it lasts.

4) Involuntary Unemployment Insurance

There are a few reasons why you might lose your job, including hospital closings, layoffs, or personal injury. Sometimes referred to as IUI, involuntary unemployment insurance can help you continue to pay off your credit card debt, mortgage payments, or car payments on a monthly basis if you find yourself unemployed.

IUI may also be used to make health insurance payments and other types of payments, such as student loan fees. This type of insurance is often purchased in conjunction with a loan and is different from unemployment insurance that the government may provide to eligible employees.

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Insurance Options To Consider If You're Self-Employed or a Business Owner

Whether you're a business owner or working for yourself, you’ll have an additional list of responsibilities and potential liabilities that insurance may be able to cover. The following are five types of insurance policies business owners or self-employed nurses and APNs might purchase.

1) Business Auto Insurance

Also called commercial auto insurance, this type of policy provides coverage for physical damage and liability for insured vehicles that you and your employees use for work purposes.

2) Business Owners Insurance

If you run your own business, business owners’ insurance can help provide coverage for the types of liabilities you might incur at your place of business, during transport, and at the homes of clients. These kinds of policies typically bundle commercial property coverage with general liability coverage, which can save you money on both.

3) Cyber Liability Insurance

A data breach of your clients’ medical and personal information could be catastrophic. Cyber liability insurance, also known as privacy insurance, can cover the legal fees and other costs associated with claims made against you should a breach occur. It also may cover the recovery expenses typically required after a cyberattack occurs.

4) Employer Professional Liability Insurance

Employer professional liability insurance covers you against claims made by employees. These typically include things like alleged discrimination, wrongful termination, and failure to promote.

5) General Liability Insurance

If you already have a business — or plan to open one — this type of insurance may be required to secure space. Typically, general liability insurance covers bodily injury to non-employees (like clients and their family members), as well as certain property damage, including legal fees and approved settlements. Depending on the terms of your policy, general liability insurance may also cover alleged libel and slander claims against your business.

6) Health Insurance

As a business owner or a professional who works hourly/per diem, you’ll want health insurance (plus vision and dental) to cover yourself and your employees. This can pay toward preventative treatments, as well as cover a significant amount of bills if a healthcare emergency were to happen. With 49 employees or less, you aren’t legally obligated to provide health coverage, but it tends to be a benefit employees look for and expect. Plus, healthy employees make happy, productive employees.

Here are some resources:

  • For small companies: Peoplekeep suggests three ways to provide health benefits for employees.
  • For individuals: Stride Health provides freelancers and gig economists access to health insurance options at group rates.

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Insurance Options To Consider for Your Personal Life

We’d be remiss if we didn’t go over the kinds of insurance you need as a person — nurse or not. Your employee benefits often cover the health, vision, and dental coverage you have (and if you need to buy your own, see our self-employed section above). Here are some of the most popular “other” types of insurance to protect you outside of work.

1) Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance

Also known as a double indemnity rider, AD&D insurance is typically acquired in addition to either life or health insurance. This kind of policy provides benefits for your beneficiaries if you die as the result of an accident. AD&D insurance also provides benefits to the policy holder in the event of accidental dismemberment, such as the loss of a limb or paralysis. It also covers the accidental loss of hearing, vision, and speech. AD&D is typically capped at a specific amount but often doubles the value of the life insurance policy of the insured.

2) Auto Insurance

If you have a car or drive other people’s cars, having auto insurance is almost always a legal requirement. Auto insurance can protect you from financial loss in case of an accident, damage, or theft. This kind of policy typically covers a specific percentage of the costs associated with replacing or repairing your car, as well as the medical and legal costs associated with an accident. You may decide to tack on additional coverages, like collision, glass, and windshield insurance. If you don’t have a car but plan to drive a friend’s car from time to time, you can get non-owner car insurance.

3) Homeowners or Renters Insurance

Homeowners or renters insurance should protect you at your home in case of theft, damage, disaster, and liability if someone is injured on your property. Your laptop, phone, and jewelry are usually included under this type of policy — even if they are not stolen from your home.

When purchasing home insurance, look closely for the things that aren’t covered. Protection against natural disasters like floods or earthquakes often require additional policies.

4) Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission says about nine million Americans are struck by identity theft each year, costing victims an average $3,000. Look for an identity theft policy that will provide replacement of government-issued identification cards, resolution services, and reimbursement of legal fees. If your bank accounts are frozen due to suspicion of identity theft or fraud, you may require an attorney to re-establish access to your accounts.

5) Life Insurance

While it’s tough to think about, you’ll need a life insurance policy to support your family in the case of your death. There are several types of life insurance, including “whole life” insurance, “term” life insurance, and “universal” life insurance. Universal and whole life insurance are both permanent policies, providing your family with a guaranteed payout when you die. Term insurance can be more affordable because it only covers you for a certain “term” (e.g., 20 years), and the price often increases if you choose to renew it.

6) Long-Term Care

These types of plans extend healthcare coverage to include the kind of care you might require in the event of chronic illness or aging. For example, they may be used to cover costs associated with assisted living, home care, home modifications, and nursing homes. Long-term care plans may not be available to people with preexisting conditions.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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