Anyone can be sued. Certain professional jobs carry higher risks of lawsuits than others. If you are a doctor, nurse, dentist, or attorney practicing in Alabama, you can protect yourself by investing in a suitable malpractice insurance policy.
You can learn more about malpractice insurance by consulting a local independent insurance agent. These agents can provide you with a selection of customized policies and quotes from a few competing insurance companies so you can choose the policy that offers the best value for your hard-earned money.
Set up an obligation-free consultation with an independent insurance agent near you to get started.
What Is Malpractice Insurance?
Malpractice is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one (such as a physician) rendering professional services which results in injury, loss, or damage.”
Malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance specifically designed to cover professionals in the medical, legal, and social services industries against lawsuits related to such professional errors.
What Does Malpractice Insurance Cover in Alabama?
You will need to read the fine print on the policy you purchase to be certain about what your policy will cover, but for the most part, if you are sued for a covered event, you can expect your policy to pay for:
- Court costs and administrative fees
- Legal defense/attorney fees
- Settlement costs
- Judgments against you
- Other damages
When reviewing policies and quotes with you, an independent insurance agent can go over the details of each policy’s coverage offerings.
What Doesn't Malpractice Insurance Cover in Alabama?
This too can vary slightly by the insurance company, but in general, the following are unlikely to be covered:
- Claims involving sexual misconduct
- Acts committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Criminal, fraudulent, illegal, or intentionally dishonest acts
- Claims involving altered legal or medical records
In some cases, insurance companies may also require that you employ their team of lawyers for your legal defense and may not cover legal fees if you use your own attorney instead.
Learn more about the limitations of the malpractice policy you are considering by speaking with a local independent insurance agent.
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How Much Does Alabama Malpractice Insurance Cost by Specialty?
The cost of malpractice insurance can vary according to the type of job being insured, years in practice, claims history, and other factors. Find your specialty below to learn more.
Medical Malpractice Insurance
Medical malpractice insurance is not required in Alabama but is usually required by facilities like hospitals and outpatient care centers.
The average cost of a medical malpractice claim is $308,908. Costs for medical malpractice insurance can range from $5,000 a year for low-risk specialties like psychiatrists to $46,000 a year for high-risk specialties like OB/GYN & Women’s Health providers.
The good news for doctors in Alabama is that most of the time when a facility requires this coverage, they pay for it on their employee’s behalf. According to the Medscape 2019 Report, only 6% of physicians pay for their own coverage in full, and another 6% pay a partial amount of their coverage. The rest have it covered by their employer.
Nursing Malpractice Insurance
Though not as frequent or costly as malpractice suits against physicians, nurses also have a risk of being blamed for poor medical outcomes. Fortunately, nurses can also purchase malpractice insurance.
As with physicians, nurses in Alabama are not required to have coverage but it may be required by the facilities where they work. In most cases, the employer covers the cost.
The NSO reports that the average cost of a registered nurse malpractice claim is $201,916. The cost for nursing insurance generally ranges from $100 a year for nurses in low-risk jobs to more than $5,000 a year for surgical nurses and nurse practitioners.
Dental Malpractice Insurance
The state of Alabama does not require dentists to carry malpractice insurance, but many do. Because most dental offices are private practices, it is usually up to dentists to pay for their coverage themselves.
Malpractice suits against dentists do not occur often, but they do happen. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, between 2007 and 2017, there were a total of 32,488 malpractice claims against dentists and 4,491 claims against dental hygienists filed in the United States. These claims cost an average of $68,000 per claim.
The cost for dental malpractice insurance averages about $2,000 a year for dentists and about $150 a year for dental hygienists.
Legal Malpractice Insurance
According to the American Bar association, practicing attorneys have a 4%-17% chance of being sued at some point during their career. Given that the average jury award of a legal malpractice suit is $198,898, legal malpractice insurance can prove beneficial.
To be listed on Alabama’s Lawyer Referral Service, an attorney must be in good standing with the Alabama State Bar and must carry professional liability insurance coverage of not less than $100,000 to participate.
Cost for coverage is based on factors like the size of the law firm in which you work, the number of years you have been practicing law, your claims history, and how high-risk your area of expertise is. Attorneys in low-risk areas may pay about $1,000 a year, while those in high-risk fields can pay as much as $10,000 a year.
These costs are frequently covered by the law firm where the attorney is employed.
What Is the Difference between Claims-Made and Occurrence-Based Malpractice Insurance?
When you buy your malpractice insurance, you will need to choose between claims-made coverage and occurrence-based coverage.
- Claims-made coverage: This is designed to cover claims for incidents that both occur while the policy is in place and are filed against you while your policy is in place. That means that if you commit an act of malpractice while covered by your insurance, but the person suing you doesn’t open their suit until after your policy has expired, you will not be covered. You can get around this by purchasing a tail policy endorsement.
- Occurrence-based coverage: This is designed to cover you against any incidents that occurred while your policy was in place, even if your policy has since expired or been canceled.
A local independent agent can help you compare costs for the two types of coverage and can provide guidance as you choose which to purchase.
How Can I Find the Best Malpractice Insurance in Alabama?
Whether you are looking for a policy for yourself or for your employees, a local independent insurance agent can help. These agents are free to work with a number of different insurance companies so they can shop around to find a great policy at a competitive price.
There are more than 330 independent agents in Alabama, so it should be easy to find an insurance agent near you.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
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