Career & Finances | Hospitals | Legal / Ethical | Original Content

Nursing Liability Insurance: Do You Actually Need It?

  • Although your employer may have an insurance policy included in your contract, it does not guarantee you full protection.
  • Nursing liability insurance provides you with additional legal protection against a lawsuit.
  • Check out Nursing CE Central’s scoop on if you should have your own nursing liability insurance coverage or not!
Morgan Curry, RN/BSN

Morgan Curry, BSN / RN

Intensive Care, Outpatient Surgery, Aesthetics, Education, and Nursing Leadership

June 02, 2021
Simmons University

One might assume that if you are involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit that your employer’s insurance will fully protect you and cover your legal fees.  

It’s in your contract, right?  Not necessarily.

Oftentimes, that coverage that you assume will protect you may only protect your employer. 

Disciplinary action or a malpractice lawsuit can have major consequences on your professional career and financial situation.  

While your employer may have nursing liability insurance for you, there may be limitations to that coverage. 

It is imperative when holding a nursing role, whether you have been there for years or are venturing into a new endeavor, to know where you stand regarding insurance coverage.  

Ask your employer specific questions about their insurance policies: 

What does it cover? Am I fully or partially covered? If I were involved in a malpractice lawsuit, are my legal fees paid for by my employer or am I responsible? 

Of course, this decision is not up to me, but it may be in your best interest to carry nursing liability insurance.  

Having it will provide you with peace of mind knowing that you are covered if something wrong comes your way, regardless of if you were at fault or not.  

In 2020, the average cost for legal representation before a nurse’s state board of nursing totaled at roughly $5,300.  

What is Nursing Liability Insurance? 

Nursing liability insurance (otherwise known as either professional liability insurance or malpractice insurance) are policies set in place to protect nurses against malpractice lawsuits. In most cases, employers will provide you with an established policy; however, it is in your best interest to have your own personal liability insurance as well.  

The American Journal of Nursing outlines the top six categories of malpractice that nurses are sued for. These include: 

  • Failure to follow standards of care. 
  • Failure to use equipment in a responsible manner. 
  • Failure to communicate. 
  • Failure to document. 
  • Failure to assess and monitor. 
  • Failure to act as a patient advocate. 

Why Do Nurses Use It? 

According to a 2020 annual professional liability report from the Nurses Service Organization (NSO), over half of license board matters lead to some type of board action against a nurse’s license.  

Additionally, the NSO highlights that employer-provided coverage does not always guarantee your protection against malpractice lawsuits.  

On top of this, complaints to your board of nursing are generally not covered under an employer’s contracted coverage plan.  

As a result of that complaint, you could be at risk of losing your nursing license unless you proceed to hire legal representation to defend your case – and this can be quite expensive.  

For example, in 2020, the average cost for legal representation before a nurse’s state board of nursing totaled at roughly $5,300.  

And again, this expense is not covered by employers. Yikes. 

Do you research, know your role within your company, and be prepared!  

Should I Get Nursing Liability Insurance? 

There is no clear answer for everyone, and it can depend on your role as a nurse and your employer.  

Again, it is extremely important that you fully understand your individual liability coverage under your employer.  

Oftentimes, the employer’s policy is within their own interest.  

If that means requiring you to pay for your own legal representation, letting you go, or worst case, allowing you to lose your license in order to uphold their reputation, don’t count it out.  

However, this is not always the case. 

At times, their interest may be the same as yours, and they may suggest on top of their contracted policy that you purchase an individual one just in case you are faced with a lawsuit. 

If you are relying on your employer’s coverage, be sure to read the policy to determine if you are a named employee or are excluded from coverage. 


How Much Does It Cost? 

Nursing liability insurance is surprisingly inexpensive.  

Most insurance plans cost less than $100 per year.  

Just like any other type of insurance policy, rates are based on location and the coverage amount.  

You want to make sure that you are not paying for unnecessary coverage, but at the same time, also ensuring that you are covered if an unforeseen event occurs.  

The standard and recommended coverage limit is $1,000,000 per occurrence.  

With your employer having insurance, they will more than likely be your first level of defense, but as previously stated, their policy may not cover everything.  

Having your own policy is additional protection, so it doesn’t hurt to have one. 

Do you research, know your role within your company, and be prepared!  

Love what you read?
Share our insider knowledge and tips!

Read More