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What Is Vicarious Liability- And Should I Be Concerned About It?

Vicarious liability refers to the liability assigned to one party for the acts of another.

Vicarious liability exposures develop when:

  • An employer is held responsible for the acts of an employee

  • You or your entity contract to have professional services provided on your behalf

  • You supervise a provider who is not your employee

  • You share office space with another provider, and patients of that physician believe they are providing services as part of your practice

If you or your practice employ, contract with, supervise, or share space with other medical professionals, you should be concerned about vicarious liability. These working relationships create exposure, which may not be covered under your medical professional liability insurance policy.

Vicarious liability coverage is often overlooked by practices simply because practice managers and physicians either don't realize the physician and/or the practice can be sued for a malpractice claim resulting from another provider they share an office with, or it's assumed the professional liability policy they have in place will cover any claim associated with the practice of medicine.

While professional liability insurance policies do provide coverage for claims arising from rendering or failure to render professional services, this coverage is further qualified by the conditions and exclusions outlined in your policy. And it is important you are aware of these criteria and how they affect your coverage.

In most medical professional liability insurance policies, coverage for vicarious liability is limited to the liability arising out of employees acting within the scope of their duties as an employee. Several policies may even require certain employees (i.e. physician extenders) by named on the policy for coverage to apply.

Once you step outside of the employer/employee relationship, it is common for medical professional liability policies to exclude coverage for claims arising from professional services by a provider that is not a listed insured. This would include contracted providers, non-employees you supervise, and providers in a shared office situation.

It is important to discuss these exposures with your agent or insurance company to determine if the appropriate coverage is in place. Insured duties require you to fully disclose information about all exposures on applications, and failure to do so could result in declination of coverage.

For more information about vicarious liability or for a review of your professional liability exposures and an analysis of your current coverage, please contact your agent today at (800) 318-9930 or at

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