California Malpractice Insurance

The California malpractice insurance market has many players. California has the largest population of active physicians in the country at nearly 115,347 and there are a wide variety of insurance options available, including traditional carriers and risk retention groups. Rates for California physicians have long been affordable due to the the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975. MICRA was the first major state medical liability tort reform legislation to be passed during the medical malpractice insurance crisis of the 1970s. MICRA frequently serves as model legislation for other states seeking to reign in medical liability premiums.

Our 2022 Physician Buyers Guide for purchasing malpractice insurance in California gives you the information necessary to obtain the strongest, most financially secure policy at the best price. When shopping for coverage, you need a full view of the California marketplace to find the company that best fits your situation. Choose a broker that can offer multiple quotes from all the major malpractice insurance companies in California.

How to buy malpractice insurance in California?

The best way to buy malpractice coverage is to work with a reputable malpractice insurance broker in California who can generate multiple quotes. Your broker will walk you through the lengthy insurance application and underwriting process. Click to get medical malpractice insurance quotes from every major California malpractice insurance company.

Typically, the malpractice insurance purchasing process goes like this:

  1. Submit your information for your free medical malpractice insurance quote from every major insurance company in California.
  2. One of our veteran malpractice insurance agents who specializes in the California market will contact you to learn more about your specific needs.
  3. We shop your coverage to every major insurance company in California.
  4. We present you with a number of insurance quotes and give you the information necessary to make an educated and informed decision. Don’t worry. We’re here every step of the way, helping you get the best price with the best company.
  5. At renewal time, we restart the process of shopping your coverage among every major carrier to keep your policy properly priced.

How to save money on your malpractice insurance?

  • The easiest way to save money on your medical malpractice insurance policy is by working with a broker who has the access to generate quotes from every major insurance company, offering an accurate view of the marketplace. As one of the top brokers in California, we can guide you through the application and underwriting process so you’re confident you secured the best price with the right insurer for your situation.
  • The most common limits in California are $1 million/$3 million. Limits of liability play a major role in determining the overall cost of your policy. Some companies will offer lower limits to save you money. We don’t recommend this. We want your risks fully indemnified so you never have to pay an award out of pocket. Let us save you money by shopping your coverage rather than skimp on protection.
  • Check out our 7 secrets your medical malpractice insurance agent won’t tell you page to get some insider information on buying coverage in California.

How much does medical malpractice insurance cost in California?

Rates in California vary greatly depending on where you practice. For example, a plastic surgeon practicing in Riverside County could pay an annual malpractice premium of $50,000. That same plastic surgeon could move his medical practice to Santa Clara County and see their malpractice premium drop to $15,000. This is one of the many reasons it’s important to work with an insurance agency that specializes in medical malpractice insurance. Below are mature, base rates with no credits or discounts. We typically get our clients a 30-50% reduction from these rates:


  • Internal Medicine Average Rate $8,784
  • General Surgeon Average Rate $15,284
  • OB/gyn – Average Rate $14,616
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Medical malpractice insurance requirements in California

Limits of Liability: The most common limits of liability in California are $1 million per claim with an annual aggregate cap of $3 million.

Most hospitals require that a physician carry malpractice insurance if they want admitting privileges. A couple of the hospital systems that require this are, but not limited to, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Enloe Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center and Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

Best Medical malpractice insurance companies in California.

  1. Medical Protective
  2. The Doctors Company
  4. CAP-MPT
  5. Aspen

Why partner with Cunningham Group?

Partnering with Cunningham Group ensures you’ll get a full view of the marketplace in California. As a malpractice insurance broker, we can get you quotes from all the major insurance companies and present them to you. We will then help you make the right choice that best fits your needs and budget. Our veteran insurance agents have been helping physicians on average for 10+ years, let us help you secure coverage at the best price.

Historic Medical Malpractice Insurance Rates in California for Physicians.

Brief History and other important facts of medical malpractice insurance in California.

MICRA was the first major state tort reform legislation to arise from the medical malpractice insurance crisis of the early 1970s. Prior to the passing of MICRA, physicians throughout the Golden State had threatened to go on strike due to the prohibitively expensive cost of medical malpractice insurance. MICRA instituted several reforms that stabilized this trend and have helped keep rates for liability insurance reasonable. MICRA has frequently served as a model for other states seeking to reform their medical liability systems. MICRA’s provisions include:

  • $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages.
  • Caps on attorney’s fees.
  • Use of collateral source, meaning that other sources of payments, such as health insurance, are taken into account when determining damage awards.
  • Periodic payments.

Legislation requiring California prescribers to consult a state prescription drug database before prescribing addictive painkillers and other controlled substances took effect on Oct. 2, 2018. With its implementation, California is the 28th state to require doctors to check the state prescription drug database, the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), before prescribing. Research in states with similar laws has demonstrated that they reduce opioid overprescribing and doctor shopping. For example, New York saw a 75-percent reduction in doctor shopping after its first year of mandatory use. This new legislation is expected to lower the amount of opioid-related medical malpractice claims.

Tort Reform in California

With MICRA in place, California physicians already have one of the better medical liability situations in the United States. However, challenges to MICRA have been frequent, most recently in 2014 with Proposition 46. Proposition 46 would have increased the noneconomic damages cap from $250,000 to more than $1 million (to reflect inflation since 1975); required drug and alcohol testing of physicians and reporting of positive results to the California Medical Board; required the California Medical Board to suspend the license of any physician with a positive test; required healthcare providers to report any other healthcare worker suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and required healthcare providers to use a prescription drug database prior to issuing prescriptions for controlled substances. Proposition 46 was easily defeated, with more than 2/3 of Californians voting against it.