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Malpractice Insurance Costs by Specialty (2022 Rates)

Malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance. Malpractice insurance most often applies to healthcare workers and lawyers. This type of insurance protects you if you are sued to have made any mistakes that harm a client or a patient. 

Different professions might cause different types of risks in their work, therefore malpractice insurance might cost differently. Below are the costs of malpractice insurance policies for healthcare and legal workers in different professions.

How much does malpractice insurance cost by specialty?

ProfessionAverage annual cost of malpractice insuranceRelevant articles 
Doctors$7,500The 5 Best Providers of Medical Malpractice Insurance
Physician Assistants$4,000 The 5 Best Providers of Malpractice Insurance for Physician Assistants
Nurse Practitioners $650The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Nurse Practitioners
Nursing Students $35The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Nursing Students
Optometrists$700Top 5 Providers of Optometry Malpractice Insurance
Dentists$400 for a new dentist, $2,000 for established dentistsTop 5 Providers of Dental Malpractice Insurance
Dental hygienists$65The 4 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Dental Hygienists
Psychologists and counselors $1,125Top 4 Providers of Malpractice Insurance for Psychologists and Counselors
Chiropractors $540 4 Best Choices for Cheap Chiropractic Malpractice Insurance
Physical therapists $157The 6 Best Malpractice Insurance Providers for Physical Therapists
Social workers $370Social Work Malpractice Insurance: Cost and Providers
Lawyers $1,850Top 5 Providers of Legal Malpractice Insurance & How Much It Costs

Note: These are estimates only. The amount you pay for insurance will depend on things like:

  • Amount of coverage
  • Deductible
  • Specialty
  • Location
  • Claims history
  • How long you’ve been practicing

The amount you pay could be very different from the average cost listed above. You may also get very different costs from different insurance companies as well. It is always wise to shop around with 3-5 insurance companies or a digital broker like CoverWallet to compare several quotes before making the final decision.

How much does medical malpractice insurance cost?

Different healthcare professionals need medical malpractice insurance. Different healthcare specialties are exposed to different levels of risks in their work. The risks a surgeon is exposed to is very different from the risks that a dentist or a nurse practitioner or a family doctor is exposed to. Therefore, medical malpractice insurance cost varies significantly across healthcare specialities. However, the average cost of medical malpractice insurance is $7,500 a year. Most healthcare professionals can expect to pay between $4,000 to $12,000 a year.

Learn more at the medical malpractice insurance cost.

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost for Doctors?

Malpractice insurance for doctors: How much doctors pay in malpractice insurance varies according to what specialty they have. Surgeons pay between $30,000 and $50,000 a year. Plastic surgeons pay more, but the specialty that pays the most is obstetricians. 

While there is currently no federal law requiring doctors carry malpractice insurance, many states do require it. Since doctors are often the target of multi-million dollar lawsuits, most doctors should have some coverage. 

>>MORE: The 5 Best Providers of Medical Malpractice Insurance

RecommendationThe Doctor’s Company

The Doctor’s Company is the nation’s largest physician-owned malpractice insurer. They insure 80,000 physicians worldwide. Since the company is owned by doctors, they know what a doctor needs from their malpractice insurance. They offer online quoting, free tail coverage and cyber liability insurance as part of your coverage.

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Physician Assistants?

Physician Assistants: In some states, physician assistants work closely with a supervising doctor, and in some states they have a lot of freedom and are just a step short of being a doctor. Either way, PA’s need malpractice insurance because anyone can make a mistake and mistakes in this field can severely impact someone’s health. 

The costs vary, but are in the range of $2,500 to $4,500 a year. Be sure to shop around to find the best price for you. We compared quotes from three leading providers of malpractice insurance for physician assistants: Berxi, Proliability, and CM&F and the lowest quote is from Proliability at $2,158 for $1M/$3M coverage.

Recommendation: CM&F for comprehensive coverage or Proliability for cheapest cost

CM&F provides the only malpractice insurance endorsed by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. They have a good reputation, and they’ve been around for over a hundred years. You can get a 10% discount if you complete one online legal medicine class. 

>>MORE: The 5 Best Providers of Malpractice Insurance for Physician Assistants

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Nurse Practitioners or Nursing Students?

Nurses: Many nurses believe they are immune to lawsuits because they carry out a doctor’s orders, but that is not true. There are instances of misinterpretation or outright mistakes that can leave a nurse vulnerable to a lawsuit. Many nurses falsely believe their employer will protect them, but that’s not necessarily true either. Your employer will act in their own best interest. Malpractice insurance for nurses is fairly inexpensive, so it pays to have that extra bit of protection. For nurse practitioners, you may expect to pay $500-$900 a year. For nursing students, it only costs $40-70 a year to have malpractice insurance coverage.

Recommendation: NSO  – Nursing Service Organization

Nurses can get comprehensive polices for a relatively low cost from NSO, which caters directly to nurses. If you’re a student or a recent graduate, you can get up to a 60% discount. Online quoting is easy, and they have a library of articles and videos for you to reference. Nurses can get health and dental insurance though NSO. 

>>MORE: The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Nurse Practitioners

>>MORE: The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Nursing Students

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Optometrists?

Optometrists: Optometrists are most often sued for failing to diagnose a disease or condition. After all, most people are extremely dependent on their vision. Optometrists need to protect their practices and their licenses. Depending on the size of the optometry practice, the malpractice insurance cost may vary in the range of $500-$2,000 a year.

Recommendation: Lockton Affinity

Lockton Affinity is endorsed by the AOA (American Optometrists Association). Recent graduates get a 50% discount for the first two years of insurance. You can get cyber liability insurance or business owners insurance as well. 

>>MORE: Top 5 Providers of Optometry Malpractice Insurance

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Dentists?

Dentists: Some of the reasons dentists get sued include when a procedure leads to nerve damage, failing to detect cancer, or bite problems due to a dental procedure. Some successful malpractice claims against dentists paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Costs vary according to specialty. 

Recommendation: Dentist’s Advantage

Dentist’s Advantage insures—as you might have guessed—only dentists, so they know what dentists need in a malpractice insurance policy. You can choose deductibles from $0 to $10,000, and the maximum coverage is $5 million per occurrence and $6 million annual aggregate. They offer other types of business insurance, too, so if you’re a dentist you can get all of your insurance in the same place. 

>>MORE: Top 5 Providers of Dental Malpractice Insurance

How Much does Malpractice Insurance cost Dental Hygienists?

Dental hygienists: While the risk of injuring someone as a dental hygienists is not as high as doing so as a dentist, there is still a risk. There were almost 5,000 lawsuits filed against dental hygienists in the past ten years. Luckily, malpractice insurance for hygienists is inexpensive, about $60-$70 a year. 

Recommendation: CM&F

CM&F offers comprehensive coverage for dental hygienists with 24/7 coverage. They can offer you an online quote, and you can purchase the coverage right on the website. You can download or print proof of coverage immediately. 

>>MORE: The 4 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Dental Hygienists

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Psychologists or Counselors?

Psychologists and Counselors: Since psychologists and counselors deal with vulnerable people, malpractice insurance is a good idea. 

Recommendation: The Trust

The Trust was established by a group of psychologists in 1962 and they are one of the most popular providers of insurance for those in the mental health profession. They have a broad range of policies, insuring everyone from graduate students to seasoned professionals. You can fill out an application online and they will get back to you.

>>MORE: Top 4 Providers of Malpractice Insurance for Psychologists and Counselors

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Chiropractors?

Chiropractors: Back pain is the 6th most common condition in the United States. Chances are you know someone, or you, yourself have suffered from debilitating back pain. Luckily, most chiropractor mistakes do not result in serious injury, so malpractice insurance is fairly reasonable. On the other hand, settlements can be millions of dollars. 

Recommendation: ChiroSecure

ChiroSecure has been in business for 30 years, and they insure only chiropractors. They have online quoting which is almost instantaneous. They have other types of insurance, too, so you can get all the insurance you need from them. 

>>MORE: 4 Best Choices for Cheap Chiropractic Malpractice Insurance

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Physical Therapists?

Physical Therapists: Similar to chiropractors, physical therapists help injured people recover their mobility or ease their pains. Things can go south and they might find themselves being sued. Getting malpractice insurance is a great step to protect themselves. Malpractice insurance for physical therapists isn’t very expensive, it ranges from $50-200 a year. Be sure to shop around to compare quotes.

Recommendation: We recommend Berxi, a Berkshire Hathaway company owned by Warren Buffet for its stellar reputation and the lowest cost. Its malpractice insurance quote for physical therapists is only $50 a year.

>>MORE: The 6 Best Malpractice Insurance Providers for Physical Therapists

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Social Workers?

Social workers: Even quite unlikely, social workers can still be used for their misconduct. No states require social workers to have malpractice insurance, but it is a necessity to protect you. It is relatively inexpensive, from $150-$400 a year, depending if you are employed or self-employed.

Recommendation: We recommend HPSO, Healthcare Providers Service Organization, a reputable malpractice insurance provider for healthcare workers. Its quotes are also among the cheapest ones for social workers.

>>MORE: Social Work Malpractice Insurance: Cost and Providers

How Much does Malpractice Insurance Cost Lawyers?

Malpractice insurance for lawyers: Although most states don’t require lawyers to have malpractice insurance, at least 26 states require lawyers to notify their clients in writing if they don’t have it. Common reasons for clients to sue their lawyer include misfiling paperwork, missing deadlines, inadequate investigation, or failure to follow instructions. Attorneys in higher risk fields, such as class action work and intellectual property pay more. 

>>MORE: Top 5 Providers of Legal Malpractice Insurance & How Much It Costs

Recommendation: 360 Coverage Pros

Coverage Pros has malpractice insurance for attorneys starting as low as $800. Limits are up to $10 million dollars, although your firm must be smaller than 19 lawyers to qualify. You can apply online. 

>>MORE: Who Needs Malpractice Insurance & What Does It Cover?

What factors affect the cost of malpractice insurance?

There are a variety of policy limits that will affect your monthly rates, just like with any other type of insurance policy. These factors are listed below:

1. Your specialty 

Insurance companies base their rates on how risky your specialty is when determining your rates. Having a “risky” specialty increases your chances of being sued.

Obstetricians, surgeons, and emergency room doctors are among the physicians with the most dangerous specialties. Physicians in these specialties pay much higher monthly premiums than physicians in other fields of medicine.

Specialty risk is a serious issue in malpractice insurance costs so much that only about 5% of physicians pay for approximately 54% of all malpractice penalties.

2. Your location

The location of your practice has a significant impact on how much you’ll pay in malpractice insurance premiums.

A plastic surgeon in California for example, could pay a $50,000 annual malpractice premium. Should the same plastic surgeon relocate his practice to Arizona his malpractice premium may reduce to about $15,000/annum.

 This is just one of the many reasons why it’s critical to work with a medical malpractice insurance professional when buying insurance in California.

3. The impact of liability limits on malpractice rates

Different policies have different limits and caps on how much they will pay out. Many standard policies, for example, pay a maximum of $1 million per claim with a three-claim limit per year. 

A typical policy like this will only cover half of your damages if they are $2 million. Other policies may allow you to have a higher claim limit while making fewer claims per year. The general rule is, the more coverage your policy offers, the more money you have to pay.

If your malpractice risks are low, you may be able to get away with a liability policy that provides slightly less coverage.

The less coverage you require, the lower your monthly premiums will be.

4. Your claims history

Your claim history may have an impact on your liability limits and also your premiums. The more claims you’ve filed over the years, the more likely your insurer will limit the number of claims they’ll pay for in the future. They might also raise the prices if you have too many claims in the past. Some insurers may even deny you insurance because they consider you too dangerous to insure.

How can you save money on malpractice insurance?

By now, you have seen how important your malpractice insurance. If the costs scare you, the following are some ideas that may help you cut costs.

Work with an experienced broker

Working with a top broker like Simply Business, CoverWallet, ez.insure, or commercialinsurance.net who has access to generate quotes from every major insurance company, providing an accurate view of the marketplace, is the simplest way to save money on your medical malpractice insurance policy. 

As a top broker, they can walk you through the application and underwriting process so you know you got the best deal with the right insurer for your situation. 

Adjust your coverage limits

In California, the most common limits are $1 million/$3 million. Liability limits play a significant role in determining the overall cost of your policy. To save you money, some companies will offer lower limits. This is not something we recommend but some professionals do it. If you must use this method, ensure that all of your risks are covered so you don’t have to pay a lot out of pocket. 

Choose a higher deductible

This also may not be an excellent idea although it works in the short term. However, choosing a higher deductible may be riskier because you will have to cover more of the costs associated with potential lawsuits before your insurance kicks in. However, this can result in future savings if you do not have claims.

Pay your premiums upfront

Insurers will allow you to choose between monthly and annual payment plan for your premiums. When you choose the yearly plan, you may safe some cost up to 10 or 20% the actual price. Although expensive, this option may help you save some dollars.

Buy only the coverage you need 

If you run a low- to moderate-risk practice, the maximum coverage limit may not be necessary. Consider your risk exposures carefully, such as your area of practice, the type of work you do, and any previous malpractice claims, and select a limit that provides the best amount of protection.

Attend risk management training

Some insurance companies may offer you a premium reduction if you successfully complete their risk management or loss prevention training. These programs are frequently delivered online through webinars or other platforms, allowing you to complete them on your own schedule. In addition to lowering your insurance costs, you may learn useful new information to help you protect your practice.

Explore contractual means of liability limitation

Another way to cut your insurance costs is to use contractual methods to limit your risk exposure in your own work. For example, in the event of a potential dispute with a client, you might consider requiring alternative dispute resolution.

What exactly is malpractice insurance?

Malpractice insurance protects doctors, lawyers, and other professionals from being held liable for events that injure or kill patients or clients. Malpractice insurance is required in several states for physicians and other professionals.

Usually, the extent of the coverage depends on your insurer and the policy you buy. But in most cases, malpractice insurance covers you in the following areas:

  • Attorney fees
  • Court fees
  • Arbitration costs
  • Settlements
  • Punitive and exemplary damages
  • Medical expenses

Malpractice insurance is classified into three types.

Coverage for claims-made

This type of malpractice insurance covers events that occurred while the policy was in effect, as long as the claim was also filed during that time period.

For example, if you had this coverage from January to December 2022 and performed a procedure error in July 2022. This policy will cover  you as long as the patient files a claim on or before by December 31, 2022. 

Coverage of occurrences

This type of malpractice insurance protects against events that occur while the policy is in effect, even if the claim is filed after the policy has expired. 

Using the above example, a claims made insurance will not cover you if your patients make a claim after December, 2022. However, an occurrence coverage will cover you even if the patient did not file a claim until February 2023 as long as you have the policy in effect.

Tail protection

This type of malpractice insurance covers claims made after the policy has expired, but only for events that occurred while you were covered. Tail insurance is typically purchased in addition to a claims-made policy.

Who needs medical malpractice insurance?

Anyone who works professionally in the medical industry must have medical malpractice insurance. This coverage is required for the following professions: 

  • Surgeons
  • Physicians 
  • Chiropractor
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists

Who pays for malpractice insurance?

Hospitals typically pay the malpractice insurance premiums for their employees: doctors and nurses. Doctors who run their own practices usually pay for their own insurance.

Medical professionals who work for federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, are frequently exempt from the requirement to obtain malpractice insurance. The insurer is the federal government.

Last Thoughts

No matter what your profession, malpractice insurance can provide you with peace of mind. America is litigious, and someone doesn’t really need a good reason to sue you. Even if the case is dismissed, it’s a lot of mental stress and court costs. Malpractice insurance will protect your reputation and your license.

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