SHOULD I OR SHOULDN'T I?
Determining whether to invest in liability insurance as a Travel RN is a tricky question with hard-to-pinpoint answers. Additionally, it is not just the travel nurse who must research the pros and cons of purchasing liability insurance. Nurses in permanent positions face a similar dilemma due to contradictory information floating about from experts. So, let’s look at the scenarios that cause the liability insurance issue to remain in limbo.
Many assume the employer will have coverage that protects the permanent nursing staff. The same may be assumed about the travel nurse staffing agency providing coverage for nurses on assignment. While this is the case in some instances, neither scenario applies across the board. Although some states mandate an employer provide coverage, not all states have such guidelines in place.
WHY YOU MIGHT WANT LIABILITY INSURANCE
Those who specialize in representing healthcare professionals suggest several reasons why a nurse would be wise to secure their coverage.
- Employer coverage typically does not apply when complaints are filed against the nurse’s license.
- A patient may initiate litigation against an individual – not the employer when they feel that person did something negligent.
- Many nurses seek out the chance to assist at a free clinic or engage in other volunteer opportunities to give back to their community. Since these occasions occur outside of an official employment arrangement, individual liability coverage is needed to protect the nurse and their license.
For the travel nurse, each of these scenarios is compounded by the fact that short-term assignments find the nurse employed with several different organizations each year, quite possibly in various sections of the country. The hassle of determining what coverage applies to which assignment, only to repeat the process a few weeks later, adds undue stress. Staffing firm coverage may be of greater or lesser benefit depending on the state where the assignment takes place, again requiring time to sort through the details.
THE OTHER SIDE
On the other hand, some working within the sphere of legal representation for nurses recommend that a nurse rely on the employer to provide adequate liability insurance. Note: Both sides of the debate agree that all nurses request a written copy of any coverage provided by the organization, regardless of whether the nurse also carries personal liability insurance.
In the end, the answer to the liability insurance question seems to vary significantly due to a host of reasons, ultimately leaving the travel nurse (as well as permanent staff) to contemplate the best decision for their situation.
It is important to note that the American Nurses Association recommends that all nurses secure personal liability insurance. Furthermore, the LeaderStat travel nurse team always recommends travel nurses have as much long-term insurance as they are comfortable obtaining. Doing so eliminates one line item on their “new assignment to-do list,” allowing more time to settle into a new housing arrangement and a new locale before diving into the next challenging assignment.