Personal and Professional Insurance

Insurance is a financial arrangement designed to reduce risk. The purchaser of insurance pays a small amount called a premium to an insurer who promises to pay a larger amount should an unlikely adverse event occur which causes a financial loss.

Some types of insurance are required by law, for example automobile liability insurance, health insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance if you have employees. Some types of insurance may be required by lenders, landlords or provider panels, and other types of insurance are just a good idea to have for peace of mind.

COA-Sponsored Insurance Programs

The California Optometric Association sponsors an array of insurance programs that are overseen by a committee composed of member doctors of optometry who are charged with developing, monitoring and evaluating insurance programs to serve the needs of COA members. COA endorses Mercer, the administrator for your association insurance plans program.

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit

Insurance programs offered to COA members through Mercer:

  • Professional Liability

      • 50% premium discount for first year ODs

      • 25% premium discount for second year ODs

      • 10% for all members who take any COA-approved liability course

  • Business Owners Package

  • Cyber Liability

  • Workers’ Compensation

      • 15% premium discount for COA members

  • Individual Health Insurance

  • Small-group Health Insurance

  • Home and Auto

  • Life Insurance – 10 and 20 year terms as well as permanent universal life

  • Long-Term Disability

  • Business Overhead Expense

  • Dental

  • Long-Term Care

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment

Telephone: (800) 775-2020 | E-mail: | Website:

Types of Insurance

Professional Liability

Though not required by California law, professional liability insurance, also called malpractice insurance, protects you while practicing within the scope of your license against patients who sue you under the claim that they were allegedly harmed by your negligent or intentional acts. This coverage is often required to join provider panels.

If you are beginning practice or practice as a sole proprietor or an independent contractor, you will have to purchase professional liability insurance on your own.

If you are employed by another doctor or work in a clinical setting, such as an HMO, check to see if your malpractice coverage is provided for you. If so, make sure:

    • You receive a copy of the certificate of insurance showing you are covered.

    • Your employer provides coverage at off-site locations, i.e., volunteering at a school vision screening, etc. If not provided for you, you may wish to consider purchasing additional malpractice insurance on your own.

    • It is recommended that new graduates and seasoned doctors of optometry alike protect themselves from expensive legal actions wherever and whenever they are engaged in the practice of optometry by being covered by a substantial malpractice insurance policy.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D)

Pays the full policy amount for death caused by an accident and reimburses a percentage of the face amount for loss of limbs. This is a very low cost policy that provides your family financial piece of mind in the event of an accident.

Business Overhead Expense

Pays the operating and fixed expenses of running your practice if you become disabled so you don’t have to use your personal income. 13 Dental Insurance Protects the health of your teeth and gums. May be offered as an inexpensive, but valued employee benefit or purchased as an individual or family benefit.

Cyber Liability

HIPAA requires that you safeguard Protected Health Information (PHI). A serious breach (i.e. "hacking") of patient records could put a practice out of business. This insurance covers potential substantial costs associated with a breach, including litigation, regulatory fines, credit monitoring services, reputation damage and more.

Dental Insurance

Protects the health of your teeth and gums. May be offered as an inexpensive, but valued employee benefit or purchased as an individual or family benefit.

Health Insurance

Every US citizen is required to have at least a “Bronze” level health insurance plan in force. One can procure health insurance as an individual either through the COA sponsored coverage or Covered California. If you are an employer, all group plans offered through the COA program or Covered California meet at least the required “Bronze level” standards.

Life Insurance

Protects your family and business affiliations in the event of your untimely death. Protection can be purchased for periods of time, for example 10 year term, 20 year term, or length of a mortgage, or can be “permanent,” meaning for as long as premiums are paid life insurance remains in force.

Long-Term Disability

Protects your income in the event that you are unable to work because of disability caused by injury or illness. It pays a percentage of income to encourage a return to fulltime work. Some employers offer the benefit, but many optometrists elect to purchase their own individual policy.

Workers’ Compensation

If you have employees working for you, this coverage is required by law. Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage of medical expenses and lost wages for employees injured or who contract an occupational disease at work. For more information on Workers' Compensation please visit:

Choosing Your Plan

What do you need to consider when shopping for insurance?

A prime consideration is trustworthiness of the agent or organization with whom you are consulting. Good advice will generally, over the long run, lend itself to value and peace of mind.

How do you choose which insurance plan, agent or carrier to use?


  1. Insurance company ratings: Check the A.M. Best Rating of your insurance company. To learn more about this, visit

  2. Quality of coverage:

    • What does the policy cover?

    • Do you have a selection of coverage limits that suits your needs?

    • Who do you need to include: practice owners, associates, employees, additional insureds?

    • How much/what kind of legal fees and court costs will be paid for covered claims? • What lost wages can be collected if you are required to appear in court due to a claim filed against you?

  3. Policy limits:

    • Are your limits, i.e., your policy payout, set high enough to maintain your financial status now and into the future?

    • Do you have enough coverage to replace your contents, e.g., furniture and fixtures, inventory, equipment, computers and software, etc.?

    • Are the limits of liability high enough to protect your personal assets?

  4. Association programs: Many times association programs are designed for a particular profession or industry. In some cases, discounted premiums are available along with unique program designs for the members of that profession or industry (see “California Optometric Association Insurance Programs,” below).

  5. Client service: When you call, is someone there to answer your call? More importantly, do they understand your needs and are they willing to take the extra steps to assist you?

  6. Price: After you have evaluated the above qualifications, then and only then, are you ready to evaluate price. Be willing to compare insurance programs based on real value and not just price.