Personal Liability Insurance and Why Nurses Need It

Malpractice claims are on the rise against nurses. Personal liability insurance may be helpful in protecting your license, but it is also confusing. This article will explore the different types of liability insurance, reasons you may need it, and things to consider when choosing a policy.


Personal Liability Insurance and Why Nurses Need It

Malpractice Claims Rising

Imagine getting a phone call that a patient is bringing a lawsuit against you for a medical error you made in the past.  It's a terrifying call, to be sure, and not an uncommon one to receive as a nurse.  Over the past decade, medical malpractice suits against nurses have been increasing, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank.  Once a lawsuit is in motion, the nurse has very little control during the process.

Now, this is not a conversation about how to avoid making medical errors.  That is absolutely the best way to stay out of litigation, and there are plenty of wonderful resources discussing that, such as this one from the National Institutes of Health or this one from  However, we, as nurses, are human, and humans may make mistakes.  Even if a nurse provides exemplary care, they may still become involved in a lawsuit, which can come with the burden of legal fees.

Why Get Personal Liability Coverage?

One way to help protect yourself during litigation is to carry personal liability (aka malpractice) insurance.  Although employers usually provide liability coverage for staff nurses, there are some excellent reasons to get personal coverage.

Employer policy protects the employer

An employer policy is there to protect the employer's interests. This often lines up with the nurse's interest, but not always.  Having your own policy means that you will have access to your own representation if you ever face allegations.  Employer policies likely do not provide coverage in cases of unprofessional conduct or criminal convictions.

BON complaint

A complaint to the State Board of Nursing (SBON) does not fall under the protection of the employer's policy. Having your own plan can help protect your license in this case.  The SBON must investigate every claim, even if it appears to be retaliatory or frivolous, and the legal fees to address these can be expensive.  Also, the claim does not even have to be related to nursing.  This DUI case in which a nurse was disciplined is an example.


Any advice you may give to friends or family is not covered under your employer's plan.  While you must make the decision whether to give advice or not, be aware that any adverse outcome from your advice may come back to haunt you in the form of a lawsuit.  A personal liability plan can help protect you in this case.

Independent/Private duty nursing

Independent/Private duty nursing is another case in which a personal policy is needed, even if caring for family or friends.  Your license and financial peace of mind will thank you.

Types of

There are two basic types of malpractice insurance; occurrence and claims made.


Covers claims made for injuries that occurred during the period of the policy.  This covers claims filed even after the policy ends if the injury occurred during the period of coverage.  For example, you purchase a policy on January 1, 2021, and end coverage on December 31, 2023. If a claim is filed on February 1, 2024, for an injury that occurred on November 3, 2023, you are covered.  This type of plan gives you more flexibility.

Claims Made

Only provides coverage if the policy is active.  If the policy is canceled and a claim is made after the end date, it will not be covered.  So, using the example above with a policy from January 1, 2021, that ends December 31, 2023, if a claim is made anytime during the two-year active period, it is covered.  However, if a claim is filed on February 1, 2024, for an injury that occurred on November 3, 2023, you are not covered since the policy has ended.  The nurse should consider a "tail" policy, in this case, to protect themselves after leaving a position.

Riders are a form of additional coverage that may be combined with an insurance policy to increase coverage for specific situations not covered in the original policy.

Things to Consider When Looking for Insurance Coverage

  • Cost
    • The average premium cost is around $100-$200 a year but will depend on a few things.
  • The level of risk in the specialty of the department, such as emergency, pediatrics, labor and delivery, and intensive care.
  • How long you have been practicing as a nurse.
  • Where you live.
  • Your policy limits.
  • Any previous legal action against you.
  • Special needs
    • Are you advancing your degree, or do you precept students?  Personal liability coverage will be able to protect you in these situations if it is addressed in the policy.

A Quick FYI ...

The long-standing myth that having your own insurance will make you a target for potential lawsuits is false.

Your personal policy wouldn't even be discovered by the plaintiff until the lawsuit is filed.  So, don't let that be a deterrent for you.

What's Next?

If you have concerns about the area you work in, the company you work for, or anything else involving your nursing license, check out some personal liability insurance companies and see what they have to offer.  There are many trustworthy companies that provide insurance for nurses.  Three of the top-rated companies are NSOProliability, and Berxi.  They would be a good starting point for your own research.

We are reminded daily that nurses are a vital component of our healthcare system.  Nurses provide patient care 24 hours a day and carry a great deal of liability.  In an increasingly litigious society, personal liability insurance is one way you can help protect yourself and your license.  A simple internet search will provide many options for you to compare to find the best choice for you and your professional nursing future.


Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Malpractice Insurance: Beaker, Inc

Individual Nurse Liability Insurance: MyAmericanNurse

What is Medical Malpractice Insurance?: Forbes Media LLC

Nurse Attorney Says Nurses Should Consider Getting Their Own Liability Insurance:

Medical Malpractice Insurance Coverage Basics: MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ®

Why You Should Always Carry Nurse Liability Insurance: DailyNurse/Springer Publishing Company

National Practitioner Data Bank: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

As a Family Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years of healthcare experience, I am currently working as a freelance healthcare content writer. I am focused on helping people achieve wellness and learn more about disease management.

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