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Pros and cons of nursing insurance

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I have been working as an RN for a few years now, and in that time I have always held nursing insurance, discounted through my membership with my state nursing association. However, most of my coworkers are uninsured and question why I even have it. They say that I would be covered under my facility's nursing insurance and lawyer in the event of a malpractice suit involving me and that having insurance puts me at greater risk of getting sued, should be uncovered that I am insured. Funnily enough, my spouse (also a nurse) also feels the same way -- that I am spending money needlessly and putting us both at risk.

I have kept the insurance because I was always under the impression that should I ever be involved in a case, my employer would protect me but its lawyers would always be primarily concerned with protecting the facility (not me) and that my license would be at risk (with the board of nursing), should my license be called into question. While I feel I am a safe and thoughtful nurse, I have held the insurance to afford me some peace of mind. I don't see $100 a year as a needless expense and I am inclined to think that the notion of me being 'more' at risk of getting sued for personal assets is more of a myth.

Any thoughts and opinions (informed by experience) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

There's a few good articles here on AN where people debate what you've asked, although I don't know about personal experience.

Should I Carry Nursing Malpractice (Liability) Insurance?

What is the purpose of malpractice insurance?

Personally, I do have my own policy, although I've never had to use it. Yes, my facility's coverage covers me, but I fully expect the facility's lawyers to be looking out for the facility, not me. Plus, the facility's policy doesn't cover HIPAA violation payouts or representation in front of the BON. $108/year is worth it to me.

RiskManager

Specializes in Healthcare risk management and liability.

In my article linked above, see my comments regarding litigation being a search for deep pockets, and how having an insurance policy can make one a deep pocket through being named in the lawsuit as a defendant, or having the hospital's insurance company tender defense or subrogate against your own policy. I consider this more of a theoretical possibility than an important concern, though. But the reality is that from a financial standpoint, if you don't have an insurance policy or substantial assets subject to seizure, it is generally not worth suing you because you are 'judgment proof'. But the policy may offer important benefits to you over and above any possible malpractice protection.

Thanks for the feedback and linked articles/discussions. Very helpful -- I feel I made a wise decision in getting malpractice insurance based on what I've read and what others have recommended (including a few notable colleagues and attorney friends), but I remain doubtful I will convince my spouse.

Edited by dragonfire123
Typo

Twinmom06 said:
there are no cons....

Sure there are.

Its something you are paying for that you are incredibly unlikely to ever use.

And it could make you ""slightly"" more likely to get named in a lawsuit

I think the benefits drastically outweigh the costs, but still

VANurse2010

Has 6 years experience.

RiskManager said:
In my article linked above, see my comments regarding litigation being a search for deep pockets, and how having an insurance policy can make one a deep pocket through being named in the lawsuit as a defendant, or having the hospital's insurance company tender defense or subrogate against your own policy. I consider this more of a theoretical possibility than an important concern, though. But the reality is that from a financial standpoint, if you don't have an insurance policy or substantial assets subject to seizure, it is generally not worth suing you because you are 'judgment proof'. But the policy may offer important benefits to you over and above any possible malpractice protection.

They can subrogate against you whether you're insured or not. I have no hard assets, but many nurses do and probably don't want to lose them.

arack05 said:
Sure there are.

Its something you are paying for that you are incredibly unlikely to ever use.

And it could make you ""slightly"" more likely to get named in a lawsuit

I think the benefits drastically outweigh the costs, but still

much like auto insurance, however the facility you work for is far more likely to throw you under the bus than cover you for infractions. Here's the other thing - if you don't have insurance and you DO get sued and the party wins, even if you don't have assets at the time (young people or people that don't own much) be prepared to own NOTHING for the rest of your life. They can garnish wages, place liens that make property buying impossible as well as make life a living hell. I'd rather pay $100 per year than risk having my home taken away and only ever making half my paycheck.

oh and I am a licensed insurance agent as well as a licensed nurse. I know how cost benefit analysis works.

Just look at the number of nurses who post on here stating something happened, they don't know what to do but can't afford an attorney.

Nurses can be accused of many things and be totally innocent. Defending your license and livelihood against false accusations by the institution that just fired and reported you to the board won't be done by their attorney.

RiskManager

Specializes in Healthcare risk management and liability.

enuf_already said:
Just look at the number of nurses who post on here stating something happened, they don't know what to do but can't afford an attorney.

Nurses can be accused of many things and be totally innocent. Defending your license and livelihood against false accusations by the institution that just fired and reported you to the board won't be done by their attorney.

As noted in my article linked above, it won't be done by your nursing malpractice insurance company, either. Any licensure defense coverage in your policy is generally only triggered by the BON filing formal charges against you. Only then will your insurance company provide you with reimbursment allowing you to go find your own attorney. The typical reimbursement limit is $ 20-25,000. If the BON is just investigating you, this does not trigger your coverage and the only way you will have an attorney is to pay for it yourself. Read the malpractice insurance policy and know what you are paying for.

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

My concern also is that the hospital could easily throw me under the bus--or fire me, making me a non-employee. Or something could happen my last day on a job, and by the time a suit is filed I'd be gone from the hospital's staff.

Also, my husband makes significantly more than I do--about 6x, if you include bonuses. His assets are my assets.

RiskManager

Specializes in Healthcare risk management and liability.

Here.I.Stand said:
My concern also is that the hospital could easily throw me under the bus--or fire me, making me a non-employee. Or something could happen my last day on a job, and by the time a suit is filed I'd be gone from the hospital's staff.

You need to realize that as long as you were an employee of the hospital/healthcare facility the day that the adverse event occurred, you are covered by the hospital/healthcare facility's insurance, even if you subsequently leave, are fired or regardless of when the claim or suit is filed. See my earlier comments on 'respondeat superior'.

Still . . . . it is only about $100/year. That isn't much. We spent that much the other day taking 5 people out to lunch. For food that leaves us in the next day or so.;)

To me, it is worth it.

Wrench Party

Specializes in Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgical. Has 3 years experience.

I carry my own malpractice insurance now that I have hard assets (a home, a truck, livestock, retirement account, etc.). I consider it a small price to pay to help protect everything I busted my chops for in nursing school.

I can't say I'm inclined to trust my current facility, even though they are decent to their nurses. That's just my cynical nature.

Your coworkers are completely foolish, wrong and incredibly naive. You need to have your own insurance immediately and you need to keep it in force even when you're not working due to lawsuits being filed years after the fact. You cannot count on your facilities insurance for anything because it is *their* insurance not yours and insurance reps, lawyers or their agents will have your employer as their client, not you. They quite literally care nothing about you, your innocence (only as if affects them) or your wellbeing. They will throw you under the bus in a split heartbeat if it is to the benefit of your employer. Your own policy will give you your own legal representation that has your interest at heart, yours, not your employer's. I get mine through NSO and it's around $100.00 measly dollars a year or the equivalent of (maybe) 15 minutes of an attorneys time specializing in nursing malpractice cases. It is an investment you absolutely must make in yourself, your home and your future. Do what's in your best interests and let your coworkers worry about themselves.

Twinmom06 said:
much like auto insurance, however the facility you work for is far more likely to throw you under the bus than cover you for infractions. Here's the other thing - if you don't have insurance and you DO get sued and the party wins, even if you don't have assets at the time (young people or people that don't own much) be prepared to own NOTHING for the rest of your life. They can garnish wages, place liens that make property buying impossible as well as make life a living hell. I'd rather pay $100 per year than risk having my home taken away and only ever making half my paycheck.

oh and I am a licensed insurance agent as well as a licensed nurse. I know how cost benefit analysis works.

Im not saying it isn't worth it.

But the chances of a nurse getting sued are obscenely low

Theres aproximately 4 million nurses in the usa. Around 600~ paid out malpractice payments last year.

Which is around which is a 0.015 % chance or or 1 in 6666 chance

Basically youd have to work for 67 years as an RN to have a 1% chance of getting successfully sued.

Do I think its worth 100$ a year to have absofreakinglutely

But you cant deny that a con about malpractice insurance is youre almost certain to never have to need it.

I dont know the statistics on car-crashes, but im sure theyre massively higher

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Here.I.Stand said:
My concern also is that the hospital could easily throw me under the bus--or fire me, making me a non-employee. Or something could happen my last day on a job, and by the time a suit is filed I'd be gone from the hospital's staff.

This happened to me.

I couldn't even remember the person naming me in a suit. When I contacted my ex-employer, all I ever got was a 'cold shoulder' and that was when they so 'graciously' deigned to return my phone calls.

A lawyer from NSO calmed my panic. Gave me advice and we waited everything out. Case settled without me.

So worth the few monthly $$ (which by today's standards, probably costs less than 2 fancy- schmancy coffees.

Oedgar

Specializes in peds, allergy-asthma, ob/gyn office. Has 12 years experience.

I bought a policy throught NSO the moment I went to work in an OB office. Also, and RN acquaintance of mine had been accused of being impaired, got fired, and needed a lawyer. She was the primary breadwinner for a household that includes a brain injured husband and an autistic daughter. Without a policy, she had no way to pay for license defense. I do not know her that well, but have heard from others and believe myself that the accusations are false. I am soon to leave my job at the OB office, and plan to keep that policy in effect.