Nurse Liability Insurance: 7 Reasons to Get a Policy Even If Your Workplace Is Covered

September 30, 2021 •

Nurse liability insurance can protect you in legal proceedings initiated by a patient, a patient’s representative, or the state board of nursing. While physicians tend to bear the brunt of such lawsuits, nurses are also regularly sued. Because they provide most aspects of hands-on patient care, nurses are at risk for regulatory, civil, and criminal actions. The best way to minimize liability is with your own insurance policy, designed to protect you specifically.

7 Reasons to Get Your Own Policy

1. A Workplace Policy Will Protect the Interests of Your Employer

Many times, your interests are the same as your employer’s. But in the face of a lawsuit, this dynamic can change dramatically – meaning a workplace liability policy may cover the hospital or office where you work, but not you. The truth is you need a policy that is yours alone. This guarantees that if you ever face malpractice or misconduct allegations, you have representatives fighting entirely on your behalf.

2. You Need Coverage for Board Complaints

If a patient, coworker, or plaintiff files a complaint against you to the State Board of Nursing (SBON), a hospital or employer plan will not protect you. Such a complaint is often a litigation strategy. A plaintiff’s counsel uses action with the SBON to identify if a nurse failed to follow provisions of the Nurse Practice Act. A favorable SBON outcome for the plaintiff can strengthen the case when it goes through the civil process.

Likewise, if a peer or patient files a complaint with the SBON, your employer may be required to submit statements concerning irregularities in your duties. Criminal activity, like driving while intoxicated, that results in a court conviction is automatically reported to the SBON. Finally, the SBON must respond to any complaint, even if it appears retaliatory or frivolous. With these factors in mind, it’s important you have access to representation to protect your license.

3. Nurses Are at Risk for Lawsuits

Many people believe that only physicians get sued by patients, but nurses are also at risk. Data from the Nurses Service Organization reveals that over a five-year period, more than $90 million was paid in nursing claims. And the average cost of such a claim is $201,916. Without the proper insurance, you may be personally responsible for paying this sum of money – and doing so can be devastating to your finances and your professional career.

It’s equally important to know nurses can be sued for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Failure to communicate patient information in a timely and proper manner
  • Failure to adequately assess and monitor patients
  • Practicing outside one’s licensed scope of practice
  • Failure to follow orders
  • Medication errors

4. You Can Be Sued Even If You Don’t Make a Mistake

A patient may bring forward a lawsuit if they simply believe you’re responsible for a certain health outcome, even if that belief is incorrect. You can additionally be sued by a patient who hasn’t suffered an adverse outcome or other damages but simply hopes to win a settlement.

Whether the lawsuit has merit or not, you’ll incur expenses in legal representation. Insurance can help pay these costs and even cover lost wages as you take time away from work to handle the legal proceedings against you.

5. You May Be an Independent Contractor

Nurses, especially those who travel in their daily duties, are often considered independent contractors. The nature of this employment arrangement excludes them from any coverage provided by an employer. Your best bet is to carefully read the insurance policy and identify if you are included in its provisions. If any wording seems ambiguous, it’s important you contact the insurer or an office administrator for clarification. But to be safe and know you are protected, it’s smart to carry your own policy.

6. You Volunteer at Clinics in Your Spare Time

Many nurses volunteer their services outside of work, such as at blood pressure screening clinics. You need a liability policy in place that covers these situations. Just because a clinic is free does not mean a patient won’t sue.

If this happens, legal representation will be necessary to help with the defense process. But be certain any volunteering you engage in remains within your licensed scope of practice. Otherwise, your insurance won’t provide the necessary coverage. The right policy will also cover acts as a good Samaritan. Nurses have the instinct to help. Unfortunately, there have been cases where a nurse’s benevolent reaction to an emergency in public have landed them in a lawsuit.

7. Experience Does Not Safeguard You from Lawsuits

Professionals tend to believe that experience brings a certain degree of immunity. In other words, many years of practice are thought to safeguard one from legal proceedings. But this isn’t true when it comes to malpractice claims. Data shows that 85% of nurses involved with a lawsuit have been in practice for at least 16 years. This simply proves you can be named in a court case at any time.

All healthcare professionals are at risk for lawsuits. The best way to protect yourself is with a comprehensive insurance policy that covers you in a variety of situations, including while volunteering. At NOW Insurance, we offer simple, fast, and affordable policies. Learn more about professional liability coverage for nurses and nurse practitioners. Get a quote in under three minutes by completing our easy online application.