Why Do Nurses Need Their Own Nursing Malpractice Insurance? 

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

If you’ve ever been in the hospital, you know that nothing happens there without nurses. Even a private doctor’s office needs nurses to maintain their level of activity. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the importance of nurses. As a matter of fact, many people blame nurses if something goes wrong.  

Nurses need to consider malpractice insurance. We’ll examine nursing malpractice insurance, who needs it, and why. 

What is nursing malpractice insurance? 

Many nurses believe that nursing malpractice insurance is unnecessary. The sad fact is that malpractice claims against nurses are increasing. Nursing malpractice insurance is professional liability insurance that is specifically designed for nurses. 

Some employers include their employees under their malpractice policies. However, many do not. The laws of the state where you work will dictate whether your employer can cover you under their policy. Nursing malpractice insurance provides coverage that is specific to nurses and the issues they face. At one time, only nurses who worked in hospitals could get malpractice insurance, but now nurses in various specialties qualify for malpractice insurance.

Learn more at the best nursing malpractice insurance companies  

Types of nursing malpractice insurance

Malpractice insurance protects medical professionals against claims of negligence or omission against a healthcare provider. In these claims, the healthcare provider is accused of an act that resulted in someone’s loss, injury, or death. 

Nursing malpractice policies usually cover attorneys’ fees, court fees, document fees, fines that result from the claims, and the damages or medical costs that must be paid to correct the issue. Sometimes, the policy allows you to settle outside of court. 

Two kinds of liability insurance are available: claims-made and occurrence. 

Claims-made malpractice policies

These policies cover claims during the paid for policy period. As long as the policy is active, it provides protection. If the policy lapses, coverage ends, and there will be no payment of claims. Claims for events occurring before the retroactive start date of the policy will not be covered under the policy. 

Occurrence malpractice policies

These policies provide coverage for life but only for claims that involve incidents that occurred when payments were being made. No matter when a claim is filed, if the incident occurred when payments were being made, the incident will be covered. 

Some of the common reasons for claims against nurses include the following: 

  • Failure to properly assess a patient
  • Failure to escalate important information about a patient
  • Failure to stay within the scope of practice
  • Failing to recognize an error before fulfilling an order
  • Giving the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage
  • Not following orders the way they were prescribed

Typically nurse’s malpractice insurance pays claimants rather than allowing the claim to proceed to trial. 

Who needs nursing malpractice insurance? 

Usually, nurses who currently work in a hospital or other type of clinic are covered by a policy covering their employer. Many nurses still choose to purchase their own policies in order to guarantee protection against malpractice claims. Those who are in private practice or who travel to provide care particularly need to maintain their own malpractice coverage. Some of the nurses in those categories are: 

If you’re still not sure if you need your own nursing malpractice insurance, consider the type of nurse you are. The following types of nurses are more likely to need their own policies:

  • Nurse Anesthetists: Nurse anesthetists are often sued for wrongful death or injuries sustained during anesthesia administration.
  • Nurse Midwives: Nurse midwives are sometimes sued for wrongful death or injuries during childbirth.
  • Nurse Practitioners: Nurse practitioners may be sued for prescribing errors or failing to diagnose a condition. Learn more at the best malpractice insurance for nurse practitioners
  • Nurses Who Work With High-Risk Patients: Nurses who work with high-risk patients (such as those in the ICU) are more likely to be sued than nurses who work with low-risk patients.
  • Travel Nurses: Travel nurses may be sued for negligence if they fail to properly care for a patient due to the chaotic nature of their work schedule.

Nurses should ensure they have the right amount of professional liability coverage. Anyone who works directly with patients can potentially be subjected to malpractice claims. Nurse practitioners, who have their own practice, should ensure they have appropriate malpractice insurance.  

Why do you need your own nursing malpractice insurance policy? 

Just like any other medical professional, nurses need malpractice insurance. Here are three reasons why nurses need insurance. 

  1. Your employer’s policy will take care of your employer. Sometimes your employer’s interest and yours will be the same. You will also need someone with your best interests in mind. If you have your own policy, you will have someone to represent you if you ever face accusations.
  2. Complaints to the board of nursing are typically not covered by a hospital or employer’s plan. That means you may be covered in a lawsuit, but you can lose your license if a complaint is made to the board of nursing. If you have your own malpractice policy, you will be protected both in a lawsuit and if there are complaints to the board of nursing. 
  3. Nurses are often thought of as independent contractors, so the doctor’s malpractice policy will exclude them. If you think your employer’s policy will cover you, you should read the policy to see if you are named as a covered employee. If you aren’t sure if you are covered by the policy, contact the insurer to ask questions. 

Malpractice insurance for registered nurses

As a registered nurse, whether you work in hospitals or family clinics, you should have your own nursing malpractice insurance policy to protect yourself. Without your own nursing malpractice insurance, you may be at risk, both financially and professionally, if you are named in a malpractice lawsuit.

Learn more at the best malpractice insurance for registered nurses

Malpractice insurance for nurse practitioners

One of the recent developments in the medical industry is the advancement of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners have a graduate degree, make diagnoses, and are allowed to prescribe medications. In many ways, their role is similar to general doctors and they are somehow replacing general practitioner doctors. So that puts them in an interesting position of needing greater malpractice coverage more akin to what a physician might need. That means they might need to source their own nurse practitioner malpractice insurance.

Learn more at the best malpractice insurance for nurse practitioners

Malpractice insurance for nursing students

Nursing students are still held accountable if they are negligible or make mistakes or commissions. As nursing students, you spend much time in practising your nursing duties. To protect yourself from lawsuits, you need to have your own nursing malpractice policy.

Learn more at the best malpractice insurance for nursing students

Closing thoughts

When most people think about malpractice insurance, they think about doctors. However, nurses need to consider purchasing their own malpractice insurance as well. Increasingly, nurses are being subjected to malpractice claims. Having the appropriate insurance coverage can help to save their career if someone makes claims against them.

Thang Truong
Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at realtor.com, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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