Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Lawsuits against nurses could lead to higher professional liability rates


Insurance industry observers say the trend of increasing payments to indemnify nurse practitioners when they are sued could lead to higher professional liability insurance rates.

“Right now, the market for nurse practitioner professional liability coverage is competitive,” said Ron Calhoun, managing director in Aon Risk Solutions' health care practice in Charlotte, N.C. “The markets that play in this space have not seen enough catastrophic outcomes to change.”

Nurse practitioners pay an average of $2,000 annually for $1 million per occurrence and $3 million aggregate in professional liability coverage, depending on their state and prior claims experience, sources said.

But as more nurse practitioners take on greater primary care roles, “underwriters are going to start deploying more aggressive underwriting criteria because these nurse practitioners are practicing at much higher levels than they have historically,” Mr. Calhoun said.

Bill McDonough, a Boston-based managing principal in Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd.'s health care practice, said the health care captive insurers with which he works “have already broached this subject. Many are re-underwriting nurse practitioners, particularly those who are working independently and in high-risk specialties.”

One unidentified “captive in the Northeast is exploring a 50% surcharge for nurse practitioners who are currently paying $2,750 per year, and another captive is exploring the need to fund the captive at a rate closer to the family practitioner rate, at nearly $13,000 a year, given the extent of care and risk that their nurse practitioners now face,” Mr. McDonough said.