In the U.S., only seven states require doctors and healthcare professionals to maintain medical professional liability. However, many hospitals require physicians to carry professional liability or malpractice insurance.

You should carry malpractice insurance if you operate a healthcare practice or see patients.


What Is Medical Professional Liability?

Medical professional liability insurance provides security and predictability to physicians and healthcare facilities. The foundation of insurance is to compensate for financial losses. Organizations can purchase insurance policies to distribute the risk of loss over various individuals. Professional liability for medical professionals is third-party coverage. It reimburses a patient or person injured by a hospital or medical professional. However, many types of liability coverage also provide first-party coverage for a doctor’s legal expenses.

Different policies may provide for court costs, attorney fees, and other defense costs. Some policies may require you to pay up to a certain amount for defense or will only pay up to a specific limit.


What Is the Purpose of Liability Coverage for Medical Professionals?

In the U.S., about 34% of all physicians will encounter a medical liability lawsuit during their careers. Almost half of physicians over the age of 55 have reported lawsuits. Patients may file lawsuits for any care they consider the doctor deviated from the ethical standard. Common liability claims include:

  • Failure to treat
  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Prescription errors
  • Childbirth injuries

If a patient suffers injuries because of a medical error or negligence, medical professional liability will help cover the cost of the claim or your defense costs. Liability coverage does not cover intentional acts.


Who Needs Medical Professional Liability Insurance?

A variety of professionals may benefit from coverage, including:

  • Physicians
  • Dentists
  • Counselors
  • Personal trainers
  • Optometrists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Home healthcare providers
  • Psychiatrists

If you offer care to patients, you could benefit from coverage. Business clients, government contracts, hospitals, health insurance plans, licensing agencies, and credentialing authorities may require you to have coverage.

In addition to requirements, medical professional liability can protect your practice from catastrophic losses. With professional liability, the costs of defending your practice or the cost of a claim can keep small practices open.


What Are the Types of Medical Professional Liability Coverage?

There are plenty of coverage options available to medical professionals. For example, if you own your practice, vicarious liability may cover acts committed by people who work for you. If you hire employees or recruit independent contractors, you could be liable for any of their errors or mistakes that cause injury to your patients.

Most medical professionals choose extended reporting or tail insurance coverage with their policy. Tail insurance covers you if a patient files a lawsuit against you after the expiration of your policy. You also have an option for nose coverage. Nose coverage covers any claims stemming from an incident when you had a different insurance policy.

Various entities might require you to have medical professional liability. Even when you are not under regulations requiring you to carry insurance, medical malpractice coverage can protect your practice from catastrophic losses from malpractice lawsuits.