How Much Does Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance Cost?

February 15, 2021 •

Whether you’re in the process of acquiring your physician assistant license, or you’re licensed and on your next steps as a professional health care provider, you need to be thinking about liability insurance. As a student, your program might provide insurance. Likewise, if you’re employed, your employer should have a robust plan in place. Yet, these plans aren’t typically designed with you in mind.

Working as a physician assistant—especially in our litigious society—necessitates that you cover (at the very least, understand) any areas of exposure. To aid you in this process, this guide will walk you through:

  • Why you need physician assistant malpractice insurance
  • The average price of physician assistant malpractice insurance
  • How NOW Insurance can help by providing liability coverage

Do You Need Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance?

The short answer: yes, absolutely.

For starters, depending on where you practice, insurance coverage may be legally required. Even if it’s not, it’s highly advised that you have an insurance policy in place to protect yourself in the event of a lawsuit.

The long answer has to do with the fact that doctors are far from the only medical and healthcare practitioners to get sued. As a physician assistant, doctors don’t shield you from liability. You can get named in a malpractice lawsuit.

So, the question becomes: what kind of liability are you exposed to? Or, put differently, what does malpractice insurance cover for physician assistants?

What’s Covered by Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance

Lawsuits are common in the medical fields, as patients and their families are likely to sue when a medical professional’s mistake causes them harm and financial hardship.

That’s what malpractice insurance is for.

It protects medical and healthcare professionals from the defense costs associated with the legal process, including legal fees, settlements, and payouts. This type of professional liability policy serves as a safeguard that protects medical professionals from the financial fallout of a lawsuit (even if they’re found at fault).

But sometimes, patients sue for bad outcomes, whether or not there was a mistake made by the medical professional.

Per Forbes, while malpractice lawsuits are declining in number, the average amount paid out per claim is on the rise. And, whereas patients used to file claims because of doctor mistakes, they are increasingly filing suits because of bad outcomes.

Here are some relevant trends in healthcare lawsuits since the 1990s, per Forbes:

  • Overall rate of paid claims is down over 50%
  • Average payment up by about 25%, adjusted for inflation
  • 1 in 14 cases pays out over $1 million dollars
  • Highest payments most likely neurosurgeons and OB/GYNs

So, while you are less likely to face the highest costs relative to other medical professionals, you still risk being sued and having to make a large payout. This could occur despite you being at or not at fault. It’s for this reason that physician assistant malpractice insurance exists—to protect you from the financial ramifications of a malpractice incident whether in a hospital, clinic, or an at-home health care setting.

How Medical Malpractice Insurance Works

When you’re sued by a patient, your insurance carrier is there to pay for the expenses it involves, granted they fall within covered clauses. In exchange for your premium and any associated deductibles, the insurance offers liability coverage for expenses:

  • Up to a certain limit per claim
  • Up to a certain aggregate limit over the whole term

Importantly, your insurance may only cover incidents that happen during your term of coverage, or it may cover those events for long after the policy period is finished. So, you need to identify whether you have an occurrence policy or a claims-made policy:

  • Occurrence: If an incident happens during your policy period, you’re covered for it no matter when you’re sued, up until an agreed upon date.
  • Claims-made: If a claim is filed after your coverage has expired, you’re no longer covered for that malpractice lawsuit, even if the claim happened during your policy period. You’ll need to add tail insurance coverage if you switch carriers or jobs (or if you retire).
    • NOW Insurance provides claims-made coverage with “prior acts”, which means if you continue to renew coverage (i.e. keep up a retroactive date of coverage) your prior policy terms are covered and there is no need for a tail.

Given the above, what does physician assistant malpractice insurance cost?

How Much Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance Costs

As with many types of insurance policies, out-of-pocket expenses vary, and there’s little information available for average costs for the typical malpractice policyholder. This is due in part to the fact that “a typical policyholder” doesn’t exist, since many factors help determine the cost of coverage, such as varying specialties, scope of practice, the state you practice in, etc.

Thus, in order to evaluate pricing, you need to understand the factors that determine costs.

What Factors Impact Physician Assistant Malpractice Insurance Costs?

Each physician assistant has a unique circumstance. Likewise, different insurance providers use different evaluation methods. But this doesn’t mean that there are no ubiquitous factors. Below are a few variables that influence the cost of malpractice insurance across the board:

  • Your risk as an insured: How much risk you are likely to face has a large impact on what your protection against that risk will cost. Your risk includes things like:
    • Your history of incidents and claims
    • The employer you work for and its history
    • Your specialty or area of focus
    • Geographic location
  • Your insurer’s capacity: On the other hand, the rates of protection you’re offered also depend on what your insurer is able to provide, based on:
    • Its own financial status
    • Internal calculations of risk and likelihood
    • History of payments to clients like yourself
  • Mechanics of the plan itself: Malpractice insurance plans have many unique qualities. A few that directly influence cost include:
    • Higher limits typically mean higher premiums
    • Deductibles can offset premiums
    • Term length and payment schedule can affect what’s owed
  • Local regulations: Finally, there are local rules and laws in place at the state level—as well as the individual county or other jurisdictions— that impact cost, such as:
    • Required limits, deductibles, etc.
    • Set term lengths and requirements for tail coverage

Due to these factors, and more, costs vary for each physician assistant seeking coverage. Then, of course, there’s the human element. How much is a physician assistant willing to pay for? How robust do you want your insurance policy to be? Or what does medical malpractice insurance cover? Does it depend on the specific plan?

With that said, we can look at a few general trends in pricing:

Prices Over Time and Relative to Other Medical Professions

According to the American Medical Association, prices for malpractice insurance have remained relatively stable over the past 10 years. And, about 10 years ago, typical physician assistant malpractice insurance costs ranged from $2,000 and $6,000 annually.

While that’s certainly not a small number, it isn’t nearly as much as some other medical professionals pay per year for similar coverage. According to a study of overall malpractice insurance costs:

  • The average cost for all medical malpractice insurance is $7,500 annually
  • Most medical professionals pay between $4,000 and $12,000 per year
  • Surgeons pay much more per year: about $30,000 to $50,000 on average

So, if patterns haven’t faltered, then physician assistants seem to be paying less for coverage than many of their peers. Of course, this makes sense. Given the amount of risk they face, it’s illogical to expect them to pay as much as a brain surgeon. However, this does not go to say that the liability is not significant just because a physician assistant may not experience the exact same level of risk as other types of healthcare providers.

Physician Assistant Insurance with NOW

Here at NOW Insurance, we have over 20 years’ experience with physician assistant insurance. And we offer Physicians Assistants Insurance for as low as $225 per month, which works out to $2,700 over a year.

Some highlights of our policy include:

  • Deductibles starting at $0
  • Up to $1 million in coverage per claim
  • Up to $8 million in aggregate coverage
  • Flexibility to pay yearly or monthly
  • Quick and easy application that provides an immediate quote

You can do it from the comfort of your home or on your smartphone. Our process is hassle-free, easy to complete, and quick.

If you’re a physician assistant looking to protect yourself from liability, then you’ve come to the right place. Don’t leave tomorrow up to chance, protect yourself and your career NOW.

Protect Yourself So You Can Protect Others

Now that you know what to expect when it comes to physician assistant malpractice insurance costs, it’s time to get covered. The risk of a lawsuit is always present. Payouts, unfortunately, can be hefty (especially when it comes to malpractice). Physician assistant malpractice insurance aims to protect you from the financial downturn that could occur from such an incident.

Given what you’ve learned, you’re well positioned to make an informed decision about your coverage. You’ll also be able to understand your physician assistant malpractice insurance quote.

You provide a wonderful service to many people’s lives. You deserve to work with confidence and peace of mind. You deserve the same care you give your patients.

For that, there’s NOW Insurance.