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A Guide to Liability Insurance for Nurses

professional liability insurance for nurses

You may have heard that many nurses and nursing professionals purchase nursing liability insurance to protect themselves. But why?

Nursing liability insurance policies can provide confidence and security if a patient alleges that you made a mistake or accuses you of being negligent in their care. These policies can cover costs and ensure personal legal support during the claims process.

But is nursing liability insurance expensive? What if you already have coverage from your employer? Do nurses even have to be concerned about a patient naming them in a lawsuit?

Get your questions answered in this article, where you’ll learn:

  • What liability insurance for nurses is
  • Why having liability insurance policy is important
  • What types of policies are available for nurses
  • How much you can expect to pay for nurse liability insurance

What Is Liability Insurance for Nursing Professionals?

Nurse liability insurance is a type of insurance that covers attorneys’ fees and has resources to compensate a third party if the nurse is named in a malpractice case and found liable. Also called medical malpractice insurance, liability insurance covers claims that involve:

  • Bodily injury to a patient as a result of medical negligence
  • Death due to medical error

Without insurance to cover costs associated with these claims, you may be responsible for paying:

  • Legal fees
  • Defense costs
  • Expert testimony fees
  • Settlement costs
  • HIPAA violation fees
  • Legal expenses, including traveling to attend a deposition or legal proceedings
  • Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, which covers interest that a patient’s legal award accumulates between the time of the initial incident and the time they receive payment

All totaled, a claim could cost you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars if you don’t have an insurance policy.

Do Nurses Need Professional Liability Insurance?

Many nurses think they don’t need to buy liability insurance because they believe patients are more likely to sue the doctors in charge of their care rather than the assisting nurses. But malpractice claims often include everyone who interacts with a patient. That means you could be named in a case simply because you were part of a patient's care team — even if you didn’t make a mistake.

If you look at claims data, you can see how often this really happens to nursing professionals. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank:

  • Nonphysicians paid 26% of all malpractice payments between 2012 and 2022.
  • Nurses and nursing professionals made 2,849 medical malpractice payments between 2020 and 2023.
  • RNs accounted for 3,653 medical malpractice payments from 2012 to 2022.

Professional liability insurance for nurses provides comprehensive coverage for most malpractice claims and situations, so you can have peace of mind that your financial and legal needs can be covered when you purchase a policy.

Do Nurses Who Are Covered by Their Employer’s Policy Need an Individual Liability Insurance Policy?

What if you already have insurance from your employer? Should you still get an individual policy?

An individual nursing liability insurance policy may provide you with direct access to your own legal team and claims reviewer. It should also expand your coverage to include situations and provisions that don’t fall under an employer policy, such as:

  • Claims made in relation to services you provide outside your employment (e.g., volunteer work, moonlighting, etc.)
  • Costs that go beyond your employer’s limits of liability (the amount of their insurance that is available to pay a claim)
  • Actions and investigations brought against you by a licensing board (employer policies often don’t cover licensing board actions)
  • The option to choose whether to accept your employer’s decision to settle

Why Is Liability Insurance Important for Nurses?

Medical errors are more common than you may think, which makes nursing liability insurance all the more important. One in five American adults has experienced some kind of medical mistake, and errors are estimated to cause more than 250,000 deaths per year.

Such mistakes happen even to the best nurses. A surgeon’s or physician’s error can result in a patient receiving incorrect care. Challenging working conditions (such as understaffing or long hours) can lead to mistakes in carrying out orders or administering medications. And unfortunately, patients sometimes make claims that affect everyone who’s treated them.

Nurse liability insurance can cover you in these situations, giving you:

  • Access to an attorney who is personally focused on defending you
  • The opportunity to share your story and notes, which may differ from those of the supervising physician
  • A chance to have you removed from cases in which you were not at fault

Examples of Nursing Liability Insurance Coverages

Medical malpractice insurance is the most common type of liability insurance for nurses. A malpractice policy covers you in cases of mistakes or omissions that cause harm to a patient. These policies can include:

  • Defense counsel, which provides a lawyer to defend you regarding a claim or case against you, and funds to cover defense costs such as attorneys’ fees, court costs, and expert witness expenses. Defense costs that are “outside the limits” of an insurance policy do not affect how much money is available for paying a settlement or judgment.
  • Settlement or judgment amounts to the party who has brought the claim or case against you (if appropriate or owed).
  • Good Samaritan coverage for claims arising from emergency or first-aid help you give to someone who isn’t your patient.
  • Worldwide coverage to provide coverage anywhere in the world for claims made in the United States.

Some policies, like those from Berxi, also provide coverage extensions, such as:

  • Defense for HIPAA violations, including reimbursement for HIPAA fines and claims-related fees.
  • Licensing board protection to ensure you have someone to advocate for you in professional conduct investigations.
  • Reputation coverage, which offers crisis management services to preserve your reputation as a professional.
  • Wage loss and expenses to compensate for the cost of traveling to and attending depositions and legal proceedings, including wages lost from missed work.

How Much Does Nursing Liability Insurance Cost?

You might be wondering whether the benefits of liability insurance are worth the cost. Keep in mind that this charge is only a fraction of what potential claims/litigation costs could be. And a malpractice insurance policy is basically an investment in your livelihood.

The amount you actually pay for coverage usually depends on:

  • Risks associated with your specialty. More responsibilities can increase the risk level associated with your work.
  • Your state of practice. Some states, such as California, have higher incidences of malpractice claims and suits.
  • Policy liability limits. The more insurance you want to have available, the more you’ll pay upfront. This means a policy with limits of $500,000 is less than a policy that offers $1,000,000.
  • Policy type and scope. Policies that provide more coverage may cost you more. You may get a lower rate on a policy tailored to a specific practice area.
  • Your claims history. Insurance companies see previous claims as a sign of higher risk, so you could end up paying more for your policy if you already have a claim or suit on your record.

How Much Nursing Liability Insurance Costs at Berxi

On average, at Berxi you can expect to pay less than $87 per year for individual insurance coverage costs if you’re a registered nurse covered under your employer’s policy. The same policy costs about $296 when purchased as a primary policy instead of a supplement to insurance from an employer. Through Berxi, coverage for nurses and nursing professionals ranges from:

  • $81.38 per year for an RN, CNA, or LPVN buying an occurrence policy and also covered under their employer’s policy. (An occurrence policy is the only option for RNs, CNAs, and LPVNs.)
  • $296.57 per year for an RN, CNA, or LPVN buying an occurrence policy as their only policy.
  • $1,570.08 per year for an NP who is also covered under their employer’s policy and buying an occurrence policy.
  • $1,963.23 per year for an NP buying an occurrence policy as their only policy.
  • $502.43 per year for an NP who is covered under their employer’s policy and buying a claims-made policy.
  • $628.23 per year for an NP buying their only policy, as a claims-made policy.

The lower starting price can make your policy more affordable, even when other factors are considered. That’s because Berxi develops its policies based on the risks of your profession so you can pay for the coverage that you want to buy. Berxi also offers a direct-to-customer platform that avoids brokers’ fees, saving customers an average of 20%.

* Prices based on policies with $1 million/$3 million in limits, purchased by full-time nursing professionals in the state of Texas.

Get Covered With Berxi Liability Insurance for Nursing Professionals

When considering individual liability insurance, look for a policy that provides extensive coverage for many potential incidents, claims, and legal situations that can impact you and your career, including costs that may not be covered in an employer-provided insurance policy you may have. Compare coverage and premiums to determine what type of policy and scope of coverage make the most sense for your situation.

At Berxi, you’ll find liability insurance coverage that puts an expert legal team on your side and can handle the expenses involved with a potential malpractice claim or case against you. Berxi is a part of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) and provides insurance from an A++ rated carrier. Get a quote today to see how affordable it can be.

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Last updated on Apr 02, 2024.

Originally published on Mar 28, 2024.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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