Risk alert: Coronavirus update

March 17, 2020 Wayne Wenske

The following "Risk Alert" message was emailed to policyholders on March 17, 2020.

Last updated on March 26, 2020.
 

Coronavirus update
TMLT is here to provide any guidance you may need to navigate these uncertain times. Please see our latest TMLT coverage FAQs

However, we want you to be aware that, as of Wednesday, March 18, our team members will be working remotely from home. We are taking this measure to protect our employees and to help stem the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

That said, it is our deep commitment to you, our policyholders, to maintain business as usual during this crisis. Whether you have questions about your coverage or how to prepare your practice for coronavirus, we remain available to help you.



Webinars: Coronavirus risk management and FAQs
Two new webinars on coronavirus are now available to view. COVID-19: Medical liability FAQs, recorded on March 24, features TMLT staff answering medical liability and regulatory questions. It can be viewed on the Resource Hub or on TMLT's YouTube channel.

Coronavirus: Answers to your risk management questions, recorded March 13, covers HIPAA and patient privacy; sharing PHI with public health authorities; and preparing for coronavirus in your practice. It can be viewed on the TMLT Resource Hub; TMLT's YouTube channel; or AdobeConnect. On this platform, you can download documents referred to in the webinar. 

 

TMLT policies and telemedicine 
TMLT policies cover telemedicine visits. Before this coverage is active, we typically ask policyholders to complete a questionnaire specific to telehealth. However, during this time, TMLT is waiving this requirement until further notice if you are providing telemedicine services within Texas. If you request coverage for services provided outside of Texas, TMLT will still require the questionnaire in order to extend coverage.

On Tuesday, March 17, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it will exercise "enforcement discretion and will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations" against providers serving patients through "everyday communications" during this public health emergency. This announcement applies to "good faith" use of such apps as FaceTime and Skype. For more information, please read the OCR's press release

We strongly recommend you follow the Texas Medical Board (TMB) rules for telemedicine and consult their FAQs. The TMB March 14, 2020 press release suspends a couple of areas in existing telemedicine rules, until terminated by the Office of the Governor or the disaster declaration is ended. The suspension includes allowing phone consults to establish a physician-patient relationship during this crisis.

We also encourage our policyholders to visit the Texas Medical Association's Telemedicine in Texas resource center and the current article, "Considering telemedicine in the wake of COVID-19?"

If you have any questions regarding telemedicine, please contact your underwriter.


TMLT policies and emergency relief work
TMLT policies generally provide coverage to policyholders for liability arising out of the conduct of a medical practice including, in this case, any relief work related to COVID-19.

Therefore, our policies will generally extend coverage in instances where you are called upon to perform additional responsibilities outside of your routine practice during this crisis period.

However, if you are employed by a group, your group may restrict coverage only to work done on behalf of the group. Please check your policy to see if this restriction is in place, and work with your group to expand coverage.

We strongly recommend you consult with the resources below, under "Stay informed," for the most current information.


TMLT policies and business interruption coverage
TMLT policies do not cover business interruption due to epidemic outbreaks. Business interruption coverage is most frequently available as part of a general liability or property insurance policy. Check with your agent or insurance provider to see if this coverage is included in any of your other business policies.

Please contact your underwriter if you have any other coverage questions. 
 

Extended TMLT customer service hours
As of March 24, 2020, TMLT is extending business hours for its Customer Service Department. This department will be open and taking calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday (central standard time). Customer Service will answer your questions or transfer your call directly to representatives from our Claims, Underwriting & Business Development, or Risk Management Departments. These departments are also open for extended hours to answer your questions. Call 800-580-8658, toll free, or 512-425-5800.

After 8 p.m., callers have the option to follow telephone prompts to report a claim, report a non-claim-related issue, or ask questions.

TMLT is extending its hours in support of our physician community during the COVID-19 crisis. We will maintain these new hours until further notice.
 

Premium payment update
We understand that due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, it may become difficult for some practices to pay their premium payments. To that end, TMLT will not cancel any policy due to challenges related to the COVID-19 emergency that prevent you from paying your premium on time.

If you are unable to pay at this time, please contact our offices at the number provided to discuss alternate payment options or schedules.  

We remain available for you to submit payments via telephone by calling 800-580-8658.  Also, for your convenience, guest payments can be made online or by logging in to your myTMLT account

TMLT is committed to working with our policyholders to ease some of the burden created by this uncertain time.
 

Stay informed
This is a developing issue, and we encourage you to use the following resources to stay informed with the most up-to-date and reliable information:

 

 

About the Author

Wayne Wenske is Senior Marketing Coordinator at Texas Medical Liability Trust. He can be reached at wayne-wenske@tmlt.org.

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