Medical Malpractice Insurance California

Doctors and healthcare professionals in California are at risk every day for a medical malpractice claim. Each individual interaction and healthcare decision made that impacts a patient’s care, puts them at risk for malpractice lawsuits. Physicians in California should carry medical malpractice insurance to protect their finances and their careers. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed in California for a few different conflicts including: treatment discrepancies, perceived lack of treatment and other claimed departures from accepted California standards of medical care. As with any lawsuit, there must be proof that harm resulted from a California healthcare professional’s negligence. Learn more about California’s malpractice insurance requirements and how you can find optimal coverage for your unique needs at an affordable price.

Requirements for Medical Malpractice Insurance in California

Like most states, healthcare professionals, doctors and nurses are not required by law to carry medical malpractice insurance. However, most hospitals require a physician to carry malpractice insurance prior to granting admitting privileges. 

Some of the hospital systems requiring this include, but are not limited to: 

  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Enloe Medical Center
  • UCSF Medical Center
  • Long Beach Memorial Hospital

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.

California Medical Malpractice Insurance Costs

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.

Cunningham Group typically gets our California clients a 30-50% reduction from these base rates.


  • Internal Medicine Average Rate $8,784
  • General Surgeon Average Rate $15,284
  • OB/gyn – Average Rate $14,616
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Factors that Affect Malpractice Insurance Premiums:

  • Practice Location
  • Amount of coverage needed: More coverage means a higher premium 
  • Type of policy preferred: Every policy is different, every medical practitioner has different needs 
  • Medical specialty: Higher risk specialties that require unique expertise will naturally have higher premiums
  • Working hours: Longer working hours ( more strained individual) will have higher premiums
  • Previous malpractice claims history: If you have a history of claims, insurance companies will see you as a higher risk and require a higher premium to cover you

Purchasing California Medical Malpractice Insurance

The best way to buy medical malpractice coverage in California is to work with a reputable licensed malpractice insurance broker who can generate multiple quotes for your unique needs. Your California broker will also walk you through the lengthy insurance application and underwriting process. This allows you to pick the best coverage at the best price. View medical malpractice insurance quotes from every major California malpractice insurance company.

History of Medical Malpractice Reforms in California

California has had several reforms and reform challenges to their health industry. Thankfully, the reforms that have passed are beneficial to both health physicians and their patients.

Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 

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.

Challenges to MICRA

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.

CURES Requirement Legislation

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.

How Do Malpractice Insurance Agents Save You Money?  

California medical malpractice insurance brokers shop for the best available policies to determine which ones are best suited for your unique needs at the lowest cost. In the medical malpractice insurance industry, agent commissions are already built into your premium. You pay the same amount for coverage whether you use an agent or purchase directly from the insurance company. Let us be your advocate. Request your free California medical malpractice insurance quote now. 

California Doctors Choose To Work With Cunningham Group

California physicians choose Cunningham Group because we are one of the few medical malpractice insurance agencies that take the time to understand your specific employment situation and your approach to patient care. With access to every major medical malpractice insurance company in California, our team is uniquely qualified to get you the best coverage at the most affordable price. Most California agents only have access to one or two medical malpractice insurance companies. Our almost-universal access lets us shop your coverage among nearly every available company, which means  California malpractice insurers compete for your business.

How Does the Medical Malpractice Agent Process Work?

  1. You will submit your information through a secure medical malpractice insurance quote form.
  2. You can always call us and speak to an agent immediately.
  3. A veteran medical malpractice insurance broker in California will be assigned to you.
  4. We shop your Physician Malpractice Insurance to every major malpractice insurance in California.
  5. Your insurance agent will take the time and go over all of your options with you, explaining everything to make certain you make the right decision.
  6. We get you your insurance policy at the best price with a major insurance company.
  7. At renewal time: We start the shopping process all over again, getting you quotes from all the major malpractice insurance companies to again make certain you’re properly priced.

Request your free medical malpractice insurance quote and learn why more California medical practitioners choose us over anyone else in the nation.

Top California Medical Malpractice Companies

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

California Medical Malpractice Insurance Market 

The California malpractice insurance market has many players. California has the largest population of active physicians in the country at nearly 115,347 , and that number is still growing. There are a wide variety of insurance options available in California, 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 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.