Q&A: Tail coverage when volunteering

April 3, 2009

I've heard that malpractice insurers often revoke your tail coverage if you volunteer outside of the state in which you're insured. Is that true? What should I do about tail coverage?

Q: I'm nearing retirement and interested in volunteering overseas. However, I've heard that malpractice insurers often revoke your tail coverage if you volunteer outside of the state in which you're insured. Is that true? What should I do about tail coverage?

A: Insurers don't "revoke" tail coverage, but they may not insure you outside the state specified in your policy. Many insurers insure doctors only for treatment in their own state, or sometimes in contiguous states. Tail coverage is something you will need to pay for unless you qualify for free tail coverage under the terms of your insurer's policy. Check with the volunteer agency to see if it provides coverage. Also, you may be able to purchase insurance in the place where the volunteer clinic is located. But that is an expense, and since you're volunteering, it probably does not sound very appealing.