Medical Malpractice Insurance
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Medical malpractice insurance

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Medical malpractice insurance

Medical malpractice insurance provides healthcare professionals with financial protection from legal claims related to professional negligence and mistakes. It’s a form of medical professional liability insurance.

Do you need medical malpractice insurance?

Medical malpractice coverage is often required by state law for those in the medical field. It may also be required by government contracts or business clients.

Even when it's not required, malpractice coverage is a key part of risk management. Even the most experienced healthcare provider can make a mistake or be sued for a claim of substandard care.

Medical malpractice coverage insures healthcare professionals, therapists and counselors, and medical facilities against claims of professional negligence, such as:

  • Failure to provide quality care
  • Causing pain, suffering, or mental anguish to a patient
  • Economic damages from a patient’s lost wages or healthcare costs
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What does medical malpractice insurance cover?

A medical malpractice insurance policy is a type of medical liability insurance that defends healthcare professionals and clinics against claims from misdiagnoses, surgical errors, medication errors, and care-related injuries.

It insures against financial losses over claims of negligence, oversights, and mistakes when delivering professional services.

Medical malpractice also covers healthcare and therapy/counseling services provided through telemedicine.

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Medical malpractice insurance typically covers:

  • Misdiagnosis of a patient
  • Misreading or overlooking lab results
  • Errors in treatment
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Improper medication or dosage
  • Premature discharge from a clinic

How do I get medical malpractice insurance?

With Insureon's quick and easy online insurance application you can get free quotes in minutes from the nation’s top carriers. You can choose the coverage yourself or get help from a licensed agent who has experience meeting the needs of those in your field. Most applicants can get insured and receive a certificate of insurance the same day they apply.

Do clients require you to carry medical malpractice insurance coverage?

Healthcare networks, such as hospitals and clinics, usually require nurses and other professionals to carry medical liability insurance, even when it's not required by state law.

Some medical systems provide this coverage for their staff. Others self-insure themselves and their staff by creating a liability trust fund to cover the legal defense and settlement costs for malpractice claims. However, healthcare professionals may need to buy their own coverage.

It’s important to make sure you meet your state’s minimum requirements for malpractice insurance, while also taking the risks of your own practice into account.

What are my coverage options for medical malpractice insurance?

When buying a malpractice policy, you can customize the amount of coverage and other factors to fit your business and your budget.

Claims-made vs. occurrence-based policies

Most medical malpractice policies are claims-made policies, which cover incidents and claims that happen while the policy is active. If you face a lawsuit after canceling your policy, it would not be covered. Because claims must be filed while the policy is active, it's important to maintain continuous coverage.

Some insurers offer occurrence-based policies, which are more extensive. An occurrence policy covers losses that happened during the policy period, even if the policy is no longer in effect when you file a claim. If you canceled this policy, you would still be covered for any incidents that happened during your coverage period.

Tail coverage endorsement

Because most malpractice policies are claims-made, you may want to add tail coverage for increased protection. Also known as an extended reporting period, tail coverage allows you to file a claim even after your policy has expired. However, the incident related to the claim must have occurred while the policy was active.

Policy limits, deductibles, and exclusions

Every policy has limits, deductibles, and exclusions that may influence your premium.

Policy limits are the maximum amounts your insurer will pay on a claim, both on a per-claim basis and on the aggregate amount of claims made within the policy period (typically one year). Your state may have minimum coverage requirements for both types of limits.

The deductible is an amount you must pay before your insurer will cover a claim. A high deductible will lower your premium, but make sure it's an amount you can easily afford.

Finally, be aware of any exclusions on a malpractice policy. It won't cover illegal activities, such as sexual misconduct, though it will cover you if you're unjustly accused.

How much does malpractice insurance cost?

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Your insurance rate (premium) for medical malpractice insurance depends on a variety of factors, such as the risks of your profession.

Other cost factors include:

  • Your location
  • Your policy limits and deductible
  • Your liability claims history
  • Any malpractice lawsuits you’ve faced

How does medical malpractice insurance protect healthcare professionals?

The most experienced and attentive of professionals can make a mistake or face an expensive and frivolous lawsuit. Medical malpractice insurance covers your cost of litigation, such as attorney fees, as well as punitive and compensatory claims for medical damage.

Even if your employer or the facility where you work has their own liability protections, it can be worth pursuing your own malpractice insurance to make sure you’re fully covered.

Medical liability insurance is especially beneficial for the following professionals, and others who make decisions based on their expertise.

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Serving on the frontline in healthcare, nurses face regular interactions with patients that leave them vulnerable to risks. If a patient accused you of giving the wrong medication or injection, you could face an expensive lawsuit. The hospital, clinic, or temporary agency that employs you might have its own liability coverage, but this might not give you sufficient financial protection in the event of a claim.

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Physical therapists

Physical therapists come into contact with patients directly through stretching, exercise, and massage. Patients often experience some level of pain during treatment, and the level of interpersonal contact means that even the most experienced physical therapist could have an injured patient accusing them of a mistake.

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A patient might accuse an acupuncturist of failing to diagnose an issue and refer them for additional medical care. They could also say you caused nerve damage or an infection during treatment. Malpractice insurance provides financial protection against these types of claims.

Is there a difference between medical malpractice and professional liability insurance?

Malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance, sometimes referred to as errors and omissions insurance (E&O). While the terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same.

Professional liability coverage relates to a healthcare provider’s business activities, while malpractice covers your legal defense and settlement costs if you’re accused of causing a patient’s injury or death.

If a patient accused you of an error in their treatment that resulted in pain or expensive additional care, it would likely fall under your medical malpractice insurance.

If a customer accused you of violating their privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), it would probably be covered under your professional liability insurance.

How does medical malpractice insurance differ from general liability insurance?

For many small business owners, general liability insurance is often the first coverage they buy. It insures you against common business risks such as customer injuries, customer property damage, and advertising injuries. It’s often required to sign leases and contracts.

If a patient is injured during a medical treatment or procedure, it would most likely be covered by your medical malpractice insurance. If a patient or a visitor is injured by an accident, such as tripping on a rug, it would be covered by your general liability policy.

Updated: March 10, 2023
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