Everything You Need to Know About Insurance for Nurses

TLTR: Getting insurance for nurses is vital if you want to protect yourself against any lawsuits that your profession might bring. This blog describes the costs and recommends some of the top companies that offer liability insurance for nurses. Further, we’ve explained why opting for insurance is essential for nurses.

Working as a nurse in the healthcare industry is a dangerous profession. Even when you’re following protocols and doing everything by the book, there’s always a chance that you might get sued for something that you did

So, having reliable nurse malpractice insurance is a must if you want a financial safety net that you can fall back on in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.

But what is nurse insurance and what exactly does it cover?

Let’s start with the basics!

In this blog

What is nursing malpractice insurance?

Nursing malpractice is when a nurse fails to efficiently and competently perform their medical duties, and that failure ends up harming their patient.

Nursing malpractice insurance provides financial protection to nurses throughout any legal action brought against them by a patient, their disgruntled family member, or any personal representative.

Some of the roles that nurses serve are:

  • Proper monitoring of their patient 
  • Assisting their patient out for emergency care 
  • Identifying signs of a change in their patient’s condition
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Do nurses need malpractice insurance?

Short answer: Yes, they do!

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there are over 3.8 million registered nurses in the U.S. This number will grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026. If you are a registered nurse or a nursing student, you should consider getting individual nursing malpractice insurance.

Nurses often spend more time with their patients than doctors do. Their roles also require them to be more hands-on and personal with them. They check their patient’s vital signs, conduct basic physical exams, and even draw blood when necessary. This makes them more vulnerable to civil, regulatory, and in some instances, criminal actions. Some of the most common reasons why nurses get sued include:

  • Failure to communicate and document
  • Improper use of medical equipment
  • Failure to assess and monitor their patients
  • Medication errors
  • Failure to act as their patient’s advocate

So, having dedicated insurance for nurses, in addition to the professional liability coverage provided by the hospital employer might provide unparallel holistic protection.

Here are some of the top reasons why you need an individual nursing malpractice insurance

It covers all the gaps

The hospital that you work at might have professional liability insurance. But its coverage range can be limited. For example, it might cover any damages or bodily injuries you might have been liable for. But it might not cover legal fees.

Besides, your hospital’s policy works for its best interest, not yours. So, having your own insurance in place can help you cover any gaps that a general insurance policy might not.

If you work at a doctor’s clinic, the policy purchased by the doctor might not cover nurses. Most nurses fall under the category of “independent contractors”. So, they are generally excluded from doctor’s malpractice insurance policies.

So, make it a point to analyze your policy and figure out its range and limitations.

Round the clock coverage

The policies that your hospital provides are generally only valid within the hospital premises. As a nurse, you know that you need to offer your services even when you’re outside. For example, someone in a medical crisis might need your help, or you might volunteer for charity regularly. Your hospital policies might not be effective if something were to happen in these situations.

Proper nurse malpractice insurance will provide you with great coverage regardless of where you are.

Holistic coverage

Most employer’s plans that are provided by hospitals only cover lawsuits. They don’t typically cover any complaints made against you to the nursing board. Having your own malpractice insurance will cover both lawsuits and complaints made against you.

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How many types of nurse malpractice insurance are there?

There are two types of nurse malpractice insurance: occurrence-based and claims-based.

Claims-based

A claims-based policy will cover the insured if both the incident and the claims made occur within the policy period.

The policy will cover any incident that occurs within the policy period if the claim gets made during the policy period. For example, if you have a claims-based policy that is valid from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, 2021, and a claim is made against you within that time frame, you will be covered to the full extent. However, if the incident occurs before the 31st, but the claim is reported on the 1st of January, 2022, you will not be covered unless you have renewed your policy.

Furthermore, this type of policy also has claim limits. For example, if the policy gives you four claims, you cannot get a fifth. It doesn’t matter if a claim is dismissed or not seen through to the end. It gets counted as one claim out of four.

Note: Claims-based policies are generally more expensive in the first few years but will start to balance themselves out as the policy matures.

Occurrence-based

An occurrence-based policy provides lifetime coverage for any incident that occurs during the policy period. It will provide protection even if the claim occurs after the policy has expired. For example, if an ill patient sues you in December of 2022 in response to an injection administered during the policy period (that had ended in December 2021), this policy will still cover you.

The original incident needs to have happened within the original time frame of the policy which is usually two years. For example, if you got your policy on the 1st of January 2021 and it has a validity of two years, a claim made in 2023 for an incident that took place in 2020 will still be covered.

Note: Occurrence-based policies will cost more than claims-based policies. However, they provide better and more rounded coverage.

Discuss with a local insurance agent which option would be best suited for you. As experts in the field, they can assess your situation and recommend the right option.

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How Much Does Malpractice Insurance for Nurses Cost? 

Exactly how much malpractice insurance for nurses cost can be a tricky question to answer. The rates can depend on a number of factors like your field and specialty, the state that you’re working in, your claims history, and the place you’re working for.

Not all nurses work in hospitals, some work exclusively at schools and universities, others work at retirement homes and correctional facilities. So, insurance carriers such as The Doctors Insurance Agency write premiums after considering many of the factors discussed.

Some of the annual costs listed for occurrence-based policies were as follows:

  • $594-$807 for nurses working in correctional facilities, and specializing in dermatology, oncology, geriatrics.  
  • $840-$1,538 for nurses working in psychiatric nursing homes.   
  • $1,086-$1,812 for nurses specializing in family practice, school nursing, and neonatal care.   
  • $1,334-$1,812 for nurses specializing in acute critical care, prenatal care, cosmetic/ aesthetic surgery, OB/GYN, and pain management.

Note: Coverage amount for all mentioned professions was $1 million per occurrence and $3 million in aggregate.

You can find the best rates and options by window-shopping coverages and comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies. You can also consult with your insurance agent to find the right policy for you.

What Does Student Nurse Liability Insurance Cover?

By now, you have understood the importance of having malpractice insurance once you’ve become a registered nurse. But did you know that you can still get sued when you’re a student nurse?

Fortunately, student nurse liability insurance is very affordable. You can get basic plans for as less as $35 per year.

Nursing Service Organization (NSO) offers the following features through its student nurse insurance coverage.

Professional Liability

Can cover up to $1 million for each claim arising from a medical incident and up to $6 million in aggregate.

Defense Expense Benefit

Covers your expenses if you have to attend any legal proceedings such as hearings should you be sued.

You can receive up to $1,000 per day with an annual limit of $25,000.

Personal Injury Insurance

You will get coverage against claims arising from allegations and libel to assault and battery that got committed while serving your professional responsibilities.

Damage to Other’s Property

Pays for any unintentional damage that you may have caused to someone else’s property while at your personal residence or workplace up till the coverage limit.

First Aid Expenses

Reimburses any expenses you incur while implementing first aid to another individual such as supplies from your personal first aid kit.

Defense Attorney Provided

With your own individual coverage, you can receive a defense attorney to represent you in court when necessary.

Conclusion

The very nature of the nursing profession leaves you vulnerable to lawsuits. Despite the cost, having nursing malpractice insurance can help save you a lot of money if you get sued by your patients. All 50 states require you to have a policy, whether it’s through your hospital/ employer or by your own means.

So, let our team of industry experts help you find the right nurse insurance that meets both your needs and budget today! Find an agent near you today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Companies Offer the Best Liability Insurance for Nurses in 2021?

Regardless of whether you are a student nurse who is just starting out or a registered nurse considering changing carriers, these companies should be on your radar in 2021.  

 

What’s The Difference Between Professional Liability Insurance and Medical Malpractice Insurance?

Professional liability insurance, or as it is more commonly known, E&O insurance, is a form of liability insurance that protects the insured against lawsuits with monetary damage.

Medical malpractice insurance is a more specialized variation of professional liability insurance that protects medical professionals from being held liable for disputed services that resulted in their patients getting injured or killed.

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