Medical Malpractice Insurance

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Choose SURGPLI as Your Medical Malpractice Insurance Broker

If you are a surgeon in need of medical malpractice insurance in California, SURGPLI will work for you as your only personal trusted broker. Our insurance brokers:

  • have deep knowledge of California’s medical malpractice insurance marketplace
  • stay up-to-date on the state’s legislation and tort reforms that affect rates and coverage requirements for your surgical specialty – and –
  • save you time and effort by getting a wide range of A-rated carrier quotes through SURGPLI as a single point of contact.

California Medical Malpractice Rates Are Expected to Rise in 2024

The recent adjustments to reforms to California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) will result in incremental cap increases and gradually increasing medical malpractice insurance rates. That’s just one reason why it’s important for surgeons, especially in high-risk specialties, to have strong medical malpractice insurance.

2024 Medical Malpractice Coverage and Rates for California

Requirements: No legal requirement in the state of California for most providers to carry medical malpractice insurance.

Payout Total: The total medical malpractice payout in California for 2022 was $184,773,750.

Recommendation: SURGPLI recommends carrying medical malpractice insurance from an A-rated carrier as the most cost-effective way to protect yourself and your practice from financial harm.

California Estimated Malpractice Insurance Rates by Specialty

Liability limits of $1 million per occurrence or claim and $3 million per annual aggregate are the standard policy amounts.

Each carrier uses its own proprietary methods of setting rates, causing rates to vary among carriers and specialties. Carriers typically consider factors such as practice location, surgical specialty, and past claims history. Each malpractice insurance policy is underwritten individually, but the following rates are estimates to give you an idea of costs by high-risk specialty.

Specialty Approximate Claims Made Rate Approximate Tail Rate Approximate Occurrence Rate
General Surgery $65,000 $130,000 $75,000
Obstetrics and Gynecology Major Surgery $80,000 $160,000 $95,000
Orthopedic Surgery No Spine $27,000 $54,000 $32,400
Orthopedic Surgery Spine $75,000 $150,000 $90,000
Plastic Surgery $50,000 $100,000 $65,000
Bariatric Surgery $90,000 $180,000 $110,000
Neurosurgery $110,000 $220,000 $150,000

*Using the CA standard limits of $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year in coverage

Regardless of state law, many California hospitals and health centers require surgeons to carry medical malpractice insurance if they want admitting privileges. Discuss the requirements of your coverage limits with a SURGPLI insurance broker.

Also, if you are a contracted surgeon in a high-risk specialty needing tail insurance coverage, you may need more coverage than the minimum required by your hospital. SURGPLI specializes in both medical malpractice insurance and tail insurance coverage for California surgeons, so reach out to us for a personalized quote based on your unique needs.

Get Medical Malpractice Insurance Quotes from A-rated Carriers Serving California

Surgeons in California have many options for obtaining medical malpractice insurance, but we recommend carriers rated “A” by A.M. Best. These companies are A-rated because of their long-term financial solvency and a history of successfully defending California surgeons. Some of the top carriers include:

  • The Doctors Company
  • NORCAL Group (A Part of ProAssurance)
  • Medical Protective
  • Coverys Group
  • Lone Star Alliance RRG
  • Admiral Insurance Co
  • MIEC

SURGPLI will serve as your single point of contact to get a wide range of quotes from A-rated carriers, then promptly review your options with you to find the best fit.


California Medical Malpractice Insurance

Types of Professional Liability Insurance for California Surgeons

There are 3 types of medical malpractice insurance for surgeons in California:

Claims Made Insurance
Claims-made malpractice insurance provides coverage if the policy is in effect both when the incident took place AND when the claim is filed. If a claim is filed after the end of the policy date, the claim is NOT covered. With a claims-made policy you need tail malpractice insurance, which is a separately purchased insurance policy or endorsement, to make sure you have full protection. Learn more about claims-made insurance here. Claims-made insurance policies “step up” as they mature, so the first year rate is lower than subsequent years.

Occurrence Insurance
Occurrence malpractice insurance provides coverage for incidents that occurred during the policy year, regardless of when a claim is reported to the carrier. Occurrence policies are more costly at the start of the policy, but the rate does not “step up”, and there is no need for tail coverage when the policy ends. Read more about occurrence insurance.

Tail Insurance
Since most malpractice insurance policies are underwritten on a claims-made basis, you will be exposed to a lawsuit if a former patient files a claim against you and you do not secure tail coverage. When you are preparing to leave your employer, you should seek tail coverage options with an independent broker like SURGPLI. Tail insurance covers you for a specific time period. The new employer’s policy is not going to cover you for prior acts of a former practice, hence tail coverage is needed.

Understand Your Risk of Malpractice Claims in California

Since California has no cap on economic damages awarded in medical malpractice cases, surgeons are more vulnerable to personal loss if they don’t have strong malpractice insurance. Here are some of the most common iatrogenic patient injuries that have been named in medical malpractice lawsuits against surgeons practicing in high-risk specialties:

Neurosurgery – Claims relating to laminectomy surgeries (anterior cervical fusion and posterior lumbar fusion), including: improper performance of surgery, retained foreign body, delay in surgery, and unnecessary surgery.

Bariatric Surgery – Lack of identifying and treating complications of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy; bowel perforation during surgery.

Orthopedic Surgery – Post-operative implant and prosthesis infections; sciatic nerve injury in hip replacements; deep vein thrombosis developing into pulmonary embolism.

OB/GYN Surgery – Birth injuries caused by improper use of medical devices or techniques; profound brain injuries at birth; misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of fetal distress.

Plastic Surgery – Improper performance and poor outcomes of higher-risk elective cosmetic surgeries; surgical errors and negligence regarding post-operative infections, bad facial filler injections, uneven breast augmentations, and visible scarring.

General Surgery – Surgical errors, such as when surgery is performed on the wrong body part, or when a sponge or surgical instrument is left in the patient’s body leading to a post-operative complication or death; failing to close a bleeding vein or artery.

MICRA Tort Reform and Damage Caps

California was an early leader in tort reform, passing the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) in 1975. The Act placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Subsequent tort reform over the next several decades included imposing limits on attorney’s fees, imposing shared liability rules, and a new code requiring a patient to notify the healthcare provider of their intent to file a lawsuit at least 90 days before doing so.

  • The recent passing of Assembly Bill 35 (AB35) modified MICRA and mandated the state’s first cap adjustments for non-economic medical malpractice damages since 1975:
  • As of January 1, 2023, AB35 raised the previous limit of $250,000 on non-economic damages for non-death cases to $350,000. Incremental increases over the next 10 years will raise the cap to $750,000, followed by a 2% annual adjustment for inflation in subsequent years.
  • The limit for malpractice cases involving wrongful deaths has increased to $500,000 and will rise incrementally to $1 million over the next 10 years. The subsequent 2% annual adjustment for inflation will also apply.
  • Additional mandates in AB35 now allow patients to sue and collect compensation for economic damages from three separate sources – doctors, hospitals, and “separate, unaffiliated” providers such as specialty surgeons in private practice.

In California there is no limit on the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover for economic damages, such as actual costs of the medical care necessitated by the malpractice, lost income, lost future earning capacity, and any other measurable economic losses attributable to the defendant’s malpractice.

California’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

The following are the major guidelines for California’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims:

  • A medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within three years after the date of injury or one year after the injury is discovered (or should have been discovered), whichever occurs first
  • There is no filing deadline for cases where a foreign object was left in the patient
  • Exceptions to the deadline (for both minors and adults) can be made when the health care provider intentionally acts to defraud the patient or hide a mistake
  • Claims filed by or on or behalf of minors under the age of six must be filed “within three years of the occurrence of the malpractice, or prior to the child’s eighth birthday, whichever timeline provides a larger filing window”
  • Claims filed by or on or behalf of minors over the age of six must be filed within three years of the date of malpractice

Need Medical Malpractice Insurance in California? Request a Quote Today

Reach out to SURGPLI to ensure you have strong medical malpractice coverage for your private surgical practice in California. SURGPLI insurance brokers also specialize in helping contracted surgeons obtain tail coverage when changing jobs. Whether you’re an OB/GYN specialist in Los Angeles, a neurosurgeon in San Diego, or an orthopedic surgeon in San Jose, we’ll help you obtain coverage from an A-rated carrier.

Get a fast quote for medical malpractice insurance or call 1-800-969-1339

SURGPLI is a division of MEDPLI, an independent insurance brokerage that specializes in making medical malpractice insurance simple for doctors.

Max Schloemann

About the Author

Max Schloemann is a medical malpractice insurance broker, focused on helping physicians secure Medical Professional Liability coverage. He helps Doctors and Surgeons, as well as Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and healthcare entrepreneurs launch new medical practices across the country. Max graduated Magna cum Laude from Southern Illinois University College of Business and was named the Outstanding Management Senior. Max’s career in medical malpractice insurance began in 2008 with an industry-leading firm. Max founded SURGPLI in 2023 to help surgeons navigate the complexities of medical malpractice insurance in the new era of healthcare. Max’s wife, Kristen, a Physician Assistant, and their 4 kids (plus 1 dog) enjoy hiking, golf, and cooking.

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