Medical malpractice is more common than you may think. One Johns Hopkins University study found that 250,000 people in the U.S. die annually as a result of medical malpractice, making it the third leading cause of death nationally. The New England Journal of Medicine says that at least 75% of all doctors—99% of those in high-risk practice areas—will be sued at least once by the time they turn 65.
Healthcare professionals carry medical malpractice insurance to protect them from a lawsuit if a patient, or a patient’s family, decides to sue. But it’s not just doctors who need malpractice insurance. Nurses, dentists, and even therapists and social workers should also carry insurance.
Malpractice insurance is mandated in 23 states, but carrying insurance can help a doctor avoid a costly—and potentially practice-ending—lawsuit. We reviewed more than 20 insurers to identify the best malpractice coverage options for healthcare professionals in a variety of fields. Here are our top picks.
The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies of 2020
Best Overall: The Doctors Company
Headquartered outside of Napa, California, and founded in 1976, The Doctors Company is the largest physician-owned insurer in the U.S. A physician-owned insurance company like The Doctors Company is a member-owned exchange focused on risk management and prevention. Many high-earning doctors find that buying into the insurance company can improve their practice’s profitability. The Doctors Company does pay its members dividends. However, certain doctors are classified as high-risk, perhaps due to past claims, and may not qualify for the exchange.
For professionals thinking of buying into a physician-owned exchange for malpractice coverage, The Doctors Company has an outstanding reputation as the best. With an A rating from AM Best and more than $4.8 billion in assets, it has strong financial backing.
The company’s policy offers the features you need to protect your business against a malpractice suit and other risks, including cyber attacks, and even provides legal representation through MediGuard.
We selected this company as the best overall due to its satisfactory reputation and customer service ratings, as well as its ability to improve the profitability of a medical professional’s practice.
Although The Doctors Company is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the organization does give it an A+ rating and there are no complaints against the insurer.
You can request a quote online, but a representative will call you to discuss your coverage options.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: MedPro Group
Founded in 1899, MedPro Group is a Berkshire Hathaway company and a leader in malpractice insurance for doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals. Carrying an A++ rating with AM Best for its financial security, an AA+ rating from Standard & Poor's, and an A+ rating with no complaints from the BBB, MedPro Group inspires trust and demonstrates its ability to pay claims.
Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of MedPro Group is its track record. The company claims a 90% trial win rate. Eighty percent of all claims have been closed without a payout since 1899. That rating, above all else, is why MedPro Group ranked second on our list of best malpractice insurance providers.
MedPro Group offers flexible policies for claims-made or occurrence coverage. You can also convert to occurrence coverage as the need arises—for instance, if you are leaving your practice but want to be covered in case a patient files a claim after you’ve closed up shop.
MedPro Group is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. You can apply for a quote online, and an expert will reach out to write your policy.
Best for Nurses: Berxi
Nurses shouldn’t assume that their doctor’s or hospital’s malpractice insurance will cover them in the event of a lawsuit. Nurses can and should protect their livelihood with their own coverage.
For reliability, financial stability, and low premiums, it is hard to beat Berxi. Like MedPro Group, Berxi is part of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, boasting an A++ rating from AM Best and an AA+ from Standard & Poor’s.
By selling direct, rather than through agents, Berxi can offer discounts of up to 20%. The company says you can get a quote in as little as five minutes, making shopping for malpractice insurance easy and convenient.
Nursing malpractice policies from Berxi cover a number of contingencies, including offering legal aid, general business liability insurance, and information privacy or defense for Health Information Privacy Protection Act (HIPAA) investigations.
Online reviewers regularly cite Berxi as having some of the lowest prices of the many insurance providers evaluated. There were no customer complaints about the company, although the insurance company does not have a listing or rating from the Better Business Bureau. We selected Berxi for its affordable policies, high financial ratings, and excellent reputation for service, along with its robust offerings for nurses.
Best for Therapists and Social Workers: Healthcare Providers Service Organization
Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) is another malpractice insurance provider that delivers superior service and has many positive reviews. With 1,081 reviews and an average satisfaction rating of 96% (4.8 stars) on Google, HPSO is a popular choice. Reviewers stated that getting a quote and buying insurance online took less than 10 minutes. HPSO is one of the few malpractice insurance companies to publish coverage limits right on its website.
Of all the insurers we evaluated, HPSO is the most inclusive of and provides the most information and coverage options for the widest range of therapists and social workers, including such disciplines as anger resolution therapists, behavioral analysts, child life counselors, pastoral counselors, school counselors, and many more. Such professionals are vulnerable not only to malpractice suits but may also require assault and personal injury coverage due to the nature of the populations they may treat. This level of attention to counseling professionals is why we ranked HPSO as best for therapists and social workers.
HPSO policies are underwritten by CNA Financial, one of the largest commercial insurance companies in the U.S., insuring 1 million businesses and business owners. Founded in 1897, CNA has won 90% of its malpractice cases that went to trial. The company boasts an A+ rating with Standard & Poor’s, and an A rating with AM Best. HPSO, for its part, has been providing insurance since 1990 and received a positive recommendation from 96% of its clients who had to face a claim.
Best for Dentists: The Professional Protector Plan
Launched in 1969, the Professional Protector Plan (PPP) is different from other dental insurance plans because of the breadth and depth of its offerings. It is endorsed by state dental associations including the Virginia Dental Association and the Iowa Dental Association. PPP also is listed as a vendor on the American Dental Association website, a testament to its popularity and high satisfaction ratings.
The PPP for Dentists offers customized insurance solutions for dentists and other dental professionals. From dental school through owning a practice, the PPP protects dentists with a variety of coverages, as well as risk management services.
The PPP offers professional liability insurance, general liability coverage, property coverage, cyber liability insurance, and more, including insurance for high-risk dentists.
Underwritten by Aspen American Insurance Company, a carrier with an A rating from AM Best and $12.5 billion in assets at the end of 2018, PPP insurance has the financial strength to provide dentists with the protection they need. You can also get a quote and purchase a policy easily online.
The fact that so many dental associations, including the ADA, endorse the PPP helped make this company the top choice for dentists. We also like that it’s easy and convenient to get an affordable quote online. The broad coverage options and value-added services also helped the PPP stand out.
What Is Malpractice Insurance?
Malpractice insurance covers medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, dentists, and therapists, in case a patient makes a claim that the healthcare provider was negligent in some way. It is a form of errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, which is insurance that most professionals should carry to protect their business from liability or from a lawsuit.
Malpractice vs. General Liability Coverage
Malpractice insurance specifically covers physical harm or wrongful death a patient might experience as a result of medical care. Business liability insurance, on the other hand, can cover anything from accusations of libel to someone slipping and falling in your office. When securing coverage, healthcare professionals should look for a policy that provides general liability coverage as well as malpractice insurance.
What Does Malpractice Insurance Typically Include?
Most malpractice insurance policies include the costs of legal aid, including attorney’s fees and court costs if you are taken to court by a patient. Most cover wrongful death or injury resulting from a medical incident. It may also cover a patient’s medical bills for care to correct whatever injuries or illnesses resulted from the initial malpractice.
What Does Malpractice Insurance Typically Exclude?
While medical malpractice insurance does a lot to help practitioners protect their business, it doesn’t cover everything. For example, malpractice insurance does not cover property damage, nor does it cover you if someone gets hurt in your office unrelated to their medical care. Malpractice insurance may not cover cyber attacks that could result in HIPAA violations, but you may want to consider a policy, such as one from The Doctors Company, that does. However, you can save time and money by choosing a policy with endorsements for property damage, liability, and cybersecurity.
In addition to these blanket exclusions, there are also myriad reasons an insurer may not cover a claim. These include mistakes made while intoxicated or using drugs, sexual misconduct, criminal or illegal acts, injuries that occur related to motor vehicles, and claims stemming from anesthesia. It’s important to read the fine print on your policy to learn what is and isn’t covered.
What Are the Typical Costs of Malpractice Insurance?
The average cost of medical malpractice insurance in the U.S. is around $7,500 per year, but costs vary widely depending on the coverage levels, type of practice, and even the state where the healthcare professional practices. Coverage for nurses, for example, may only cost a few hundred dollars a month. Surgeons and obstetricians, on the other hand, could pay up to $150,000 annually, according to an American Medical Association report.
Who Needs Malpractice Insurance?
Any healthcare professional, including psychiatrists, physical therapists, physicians’ assistants, nurses, dental professionals, and, of course, doctors, should invest in malpractice insurance.
If you are in a business that provides medical care but are not a healthcare provider, you may want to consider incidental malpractice insurance. This protects you and your employees if they deliver medical service that results in harm.
For instance, if you run a summer camp and a counselor might provide band-aids for minor injuries, you may want to purchase incidental malpractice insurance.
How We Chose the Best Malpractice Insurance Companies
We evaluated more than 20 national insurance carriers based on financial stability, online reviews, and coverage types provided. We also checked Better Business Bureau ratings, length of time in business, company reputation, and the depth of their product offerings in order to identify the best malpractice insurance companies for various providers. In choosing the top companies, we made sure to select companies that provide a wide range of coverage options, so that healthcare professionals can work with one provider to get all of the different coverages they need.
The New England Journal of Medicine. "Malpractice Risk According to Physician Specialty." Accessed June 9, 2020.
Miller Wagner. "Medical Malpractice Attorneys Discuss Physician-Owned Insurance Companies." Accessed June 9, 2020.
HowMuch. "Medical Malpractice Insurance Cost." Accessed June 10, 2020.
American Medical Association. "Medical Professional Liability Insurance Premiums: An Overview of the Market from 2008 to 2017" Accessed June 10, 2020.