Medical malpractice insurance is a professional liability policy designed for physicians and other medical professionals. Policies cover accusations that their negligence caused a patient’s injury or death. Medical malpractice insurance costs vary by state and specialty. Premiums start at $4,000 but can go up to $34,000 or more with typical costs around $10,000 per year.
Non-physician health care professionals can go to Hiscox for medical malpractice insurance. Hiscox sells small business insurance directly to consumers, and premiums start at $22.50 a month. The application takes just minutes to complete, and you can purchase insurance online.
Top Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies
|Hiscox||Allied health care professionals who need affordable malpractice insurance|
|The Doctors Company||Physicians looking for specialty-specific discounts|
|ISMIE||Physicians and allied health care professionals who want to customize coverage to their practice’s specific risks|
|Coverys||Physicians and allied health care professionals who want risk management services|
|ProAssurance||Physicians and allied health care professionals who want cyber liability added to their malpractice insurance automatically|
|Gallagher||Physicians and allied health care professionals who want to compare quotes from multiple malpractice insurance carriers|
Our list of top providers includes both national carriers and brokers that specialize in medical malpractice for physicians and allied health care professionals. While few can quote policies online, most have the experience and capacity to get quality coverage for a broad range of medical professionals.
Hiscox prides itself on being a small business insurance specialist. Because of this focus, the company can often provide fast coverage in a wide variety of industries. Customers often comment on Hiscox’s helpful service too.
For health care, Hiscox offers quality professional liability insurance for allied health care workers. These are the nonphysician health care professionals like lab nurses, lab technicians, and massage therapists. Allied health care workers can get coverage directly from Hiscox, so the price is usually affordable.
The Doctors Company
The Doctors Company is the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. It is the preferred provider for six national medical associations, including the American College of Surgeons and more than 30 regional ones.
The Doctors Company offers discounts for members of these medical associations. Depending on your specialty and the size of your practice, you may be eligible for a program that offers additional discounts and premium credits. Eligibility requirements include superior claims history, board certification, completion of continuing medical education (CME)-approved curriculum, and implementation of a quality improvement plan.
ISMIE is a policyholder-owned insurer that works solely with health care professionals. Headquartered in Illinois, ISMIE offers flexible coverage solutions to medical providers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the United States Virgin Island.
A major highlight of working with ISMIE is its customization capabilities. You can work with an underwriter to tailor your liability insurance to your unique situation. For instance, ISMIE offers endorsements for suspended coverage, free medical services and for retired, substitute, and part-time physicians.
Licensed in all 50 states, Coverys has more than 40 years’ experience in covering health care professionals. It’s a leading insurer of medical malpractice insurance for physicians, dentists, podiatrists, and advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants.
Coverys puts this experience to good use in its risk management services. Physicians and allied health care professionals who buy from Coverys get access to a risk management helpline and an analytics dashboard that shows the areas of risk for your specialty. These tools can help you reduce claims and make your practice safer.
ProAssurance is a medical malpractice insurance company created by physicians and dedicated to all aspects of the health care industry. It works with everything from hospitals and physicians’ groups to small practices for a variety of specialties, including doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and podiatrists.
Medical professionals who are concerned about data breaches and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) fines should consider working with ProAssurance. All its medical malpractice insurance automatically includes cyber liability insurance at no extra charge. Highlights of this enhancement include coverage for data breaches, cyber extortion, and client notification.
Gallagher is the world’s largest medical malpractice brokerage firm, which means it can get quotes from multiple carriers. Its site currently lists almost 100 medical malpractice insurers. Many are national carriers, but Gallagher also works with smaller, regional insurers.
Considering how location-specific malpractice insurance is, getting quotes from national and regional carriers is a huge plus. You get to compare malpractice insurance costs and coverage so that you can find the policy that fits your business.
What Medical Malpractice Insurance Is
Medical malpractice insurance covers physicians and allied health care professionals when patients accuse them of negligence and mistakes. Policies typically pay costs that come with defending or settling malpractice lawsuits, like attorney fees, courts cost, settlement, and judgments. On average, physicians pay slightly less than $10,000, but some specialists can pay $34,000.
Only seven states require doctors to carry medical malpractice insurance, but most physicians need the protection it affords. According to a 2017 report, 55 percent of physicians were named in a malpractice lawsuit. Specialists, like OB-GYNs and surgeons, were even more likely to be sued. Moreover, any health care professional can be sued for negligence, so everyone from acupuncturists to speech pathologists need coverage.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider injures a patient through negligence. The negligent act typically occurs through an error or omission in diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare.
Each state governs medical malpractice law, but claims usually require three general characteristics. First, the medical professional has to have violated a standard of care. This established negligence. Next, the patient needs to show they were injured because of the medical professional’s negligence. Finally, the patient has to show their injury resulted in significant damages.
Kimberly Robinson, a shareholder and attorney with Johnson & Bell, says the standard of care is an ever-changing measure.
“There’s no place where a doctor or anyone else can look up the standard of care. It’s not codified, so it can be a squishy or gray concept. What was the standard 20 years ago in many areas of medicine has changed with advancements, research, and developments in the medical field. Plus, it’s dependent on situation and specialty. Standard of care is generally defined as what a reasonably well-trained provider, within his or her specialty, would do under like or similar circumstances. This is one reason states require continuing what medical malpractice insurance covers.”
Medical malpractice insurance covers accusations of negligence in patient care. The coverage typically pays for your legal fees, including lawyers’ bills, court costs, investigation expenses, and medical damages. Additionally, medical malpractice is usually claims-made coverage. It only pays if your policy is active when both the treatment takes place, and the lawsuit is filed.
Medical malpractice insurance covers events like:
- Failure to diagnose
- Unnecessary surgery or treatment
- Surgical errors
- Poor aftercare
- Mistakes in reading lab results
- Failure to order proper testing
- Mistakes in taking patient history
- Premature discharge
You can extend your medical malpractice insurance with a couple of add-ons. One is prior acts coverage. It extends coverage to include treatments performed before your policy start date. The other is extended reporting endorsements. This is sometimes called tail coverage, and it adds time to the end of your policy. Physicians typically add these coverages when they are switching carriers, changing policies, or retiring from the profession.
What Medical Malpractice Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Because medical malpractice is triggered by the claim and not the occurrence, treatments that occur before or after your policy term are excluded. It also won’t pay for your defense if you’re accused of criminal activity, financial mismanagement, or sexual misconduct.
Medical malpractice insurance only covers your professional services, so it doesn’t pay for:
- An employee’s work-related injury
- Accusations of harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination
- A patient’s injury that’s not related to medical treatment like a slip and fall
These and other risks are covered by a variety of insurance policies. Read more our ultimate guide to Business Insurance for more information.
Medical Malpractice Insurance Costs
Location and specialty are two major factors impacting medical malpractice insurance costs. Riskier specialties, like orthopedic surgery, in states that both require coverage and award higher average judgments will see higher premiums. For instance, an internist in Wisconsin pays $3,600 to $7,000. Move them to Indiana, and the premiums jump to $7,300 to $12,600.
Sample Medical Malpractice Insurance Costs
The chart shows medical malpractice costs for three specialties in three states to show how risk and location impact premium. Costs already vary widely for the same specialty in the same state. That range widens even more when you look at different specialties in different locations.
Medical professionals should also know that their malpractice premiums usually have a step factor. According to Travis Biggert, chief sales officer with Hub International Mid-America:
“It is called a step factor because claims-made policies start out heavily discounted because the risk of having a claim brought against you in the first year is very minimal. But, as time goes on, the risk of a claim being brought against you increases, so the cost of the insurance premium steps up with the risk. After four to five years, this stair-step process ends and your premium levels off at what is called a ‘mature’ rate.”
Other factors that can impact malpractice insurance costs include:
- Your claims history: Medical professionals with fewer claims typically pay lower premiums for malpractice insurance
- Your hours: Long hours means more patients, and that increases your risk of making a mistake; reducing your work week to 20 hours can lower your premiums
- The size of your practice: The bigger your practice, in terms of both the number of patients and facilities, the higher your costs
- Policy limits: You can opt for lower limits if state law allows it, but be careful; this means you have less coverage and may be underinsured
- Deductibles: Typically, a higher deductible lowers your medical malpractice costs; this may be a good idea for physicians who have enough cash reserves to pay more out of pocket legal costs
How to Reduce Medical Malpractice Insurance Costs
Physicians need medical malpractice insurance, but the premiums can be expensive. Luckily, many providers offer a number of options for saving on malpractice coverage.
Biggert recommends doctors ask about:
- Risk management credits: Biggert says some carriers have risk management coursework that results in policy discounts when completed, even offering it in break-out session in annual conferences
- Claim-free credits: Practitioners with no prior claims or pending incidents can often get a premium credit
- Part-time practitioners: A provider who only works half the normal caseload should make sure the underwriter knows and discounts their plan accordingly
- Dividend programs: “Some carriers offer a dividend program based on the profitability of the physician or group,” says Biggert. “This can add up to significant money.”
- Loyalty Programs: Biggert says this is a savings fund for policyholders. Money goes into it each year the physician is profitable. If the physician sticks with the carrier throughout their carrier, the carriers reward them with a check when they retire
Keeping costs down is important but not at the expensive of sufficient coverage. Work with an agent who has experience with medical malpractice insurance to make sure you’re getting a good value rather than cheap insurance.
Medical Malpractice Insurance Deductibles
Deductibles are the amount an insured is required to pay for a claim before their insurance carrier kicks in. They are often set by the carrier and typically range between $2,500 and $10,000.
For medical malpractice insurance, carriers offer two kinds of deductibles:
- Loss-only deductible: This is sometimes called indemnity-only; you only pay this deductible when a judge rules against you or you owe money in a settlement
- Indemnity and expense deductible: This deductible goes toward indemnity payments and your defense costs; essentially, if there’s a malpractice claim, you’re paying this deductible
Let’s look at how this works. Say you’re carrying medical malpractice insurance with a $5,000 loss-only deductible when you’re sued. If you win, you don’t have to pay the deductible. But if there is a settlement or judgment against you, then you need to cover $5,000 of it.
But let’s say you have an indemnity and expense deductible of $5,000. In that case, you pay the deductible even if you win the case or aren’t required to pay a settlement. That’s because your deductible also goes towards your defense costs.
Tips for Getting Medical Malpractice Insurance
Physicians and other health care professionals have a high risk of being sued for malpractice. These lawsuits can be outrageously expensive, and that makes getting the appropriate medical malpractice insurance crucial.
Here are a few tips to help you get covered.
1. Understand Claims-made Coverage
Most medical malpractice insurance is claims-made coverage, which means it’s triggered by a claim rather than an event. Your policy must be active for the trigger, an allegation of negligence, and the claim filing. If either occurs outside of the policy start and end dates, then you’re not covered.
2. Know Your Retroactive Date
Medical malpractice insurance usually has a retroactive date. Any treatment that occurs prior to your retroactive date is not covered, even if a claim is made when your policy is active. This is important to know when you switch carriers. You need your new policy to honor the retroactive date on your former policy, or you risk having to pay for an old claim out of your own pocket.
3. Consider Tail Coverage
Tail coverage, sometimes called an extended coverage endorsement, gives you more time to report a claim. It’s expensive, but it can save your practice if a negligence lawsuit pops up after your policy expires.
4. Ask About Discounts
Medical malpractice insurers give discounts for any number of things, especially anything that makes you look like a good risk. Ask your carrier if it offers discounts for having a clean claims history or completing risk management courses. Check with medical associations too. They often get group rates for members.
5. Compare Policies
While medical malpractice rates are highly dependent upon location and specialty, those aren’t the only factors that determine price. Every insurance provider has its own way of calculating premiums, so it’s a good idea to get quotes from at least three or four carriers. That way you can find medical malpractice insurance that’s the right mix of coverage and cost.
Additional Insurance for Medical Professionals
Medical malpractice insurance only covers claims of negligence that result in patient injury or death. However, that’s not the only exposures medical practices face. Like any small business, your practice needs other insurance policies to cover other risks.
In addition to medical malpractice insurance, medical professionals may also need:
- General liability insurance: This covers third-party lawsuits over bodily injury and property damage
- Commercial property insurance: Allows you to pay for repairs when your business property is damaged by fire, wind, theft, and other covered events
- Cyber liability insurance: Pays the costs from a data breach, such as HIPAA fines, client notification
- Workers’ compensation insurance: This covers employees’ lost wages and medical bills after a workplace accident
Some medical providers qualify for a business owner’s policy, which bundles general liability and commercial property into a single package. However, expensive medical equipment may mean your ineligible.
Medical Malpractice Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We’ve listed a few of the most common questions about medical malpractice insurance here. If you don’t see yours, post it in our forum or add it to the comments below.
Which States Require Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Seven states have a minimum malpractice insurance requirement for physicians: Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Another six states require malpractice insurance to be eligible for liability reform: Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. Carrying malpractice coverage in these states lets physicians participate in programs that help them pay claims.
Which Specialties Pay the Most for Malpractice Insurance?
Specialists tend to pay more than primary care physicians for medical malpractice insurance because they face a greater risk of being sued. Surgeons of all kinds usually pay the most, averaging between $30,000 and $50,000 a year. For comparison, internists pay $8,000 to $50,000. Premiums may be more depending on the state.
Does Medical Malpractice Insurance Cover HIPAA Violations?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires health care providers to protect patient information, and attorneys have used it to demonstrate medical professionals failed to meet professional standards. However, these claims are more commonly covered by cyber liability insurance. Some medical malpractice insurance includes limited cyber coverage.
The Bottom Line
Whether you live in a state that requires medical malpractice insurance or not, coverage is a good idea. Malpractice lawsuits are common for health care workers, and the expense can drain your business’s bank account. Getting insurance manages the risk by paying for your defense.
Be sure to check out the medical malpractice insurance policies offered by Hiscox. The application for allied health care professionals takes just minutes to complete and returns quotes instantly.