Colorado Medical Professional Liability Insurance Market Summary

Doctors in Colorado have plenty of great options for medical liability insurance. The top insurers in the state are:

  • COPIC Insurance

  • Medical Protective Group

  • The Doctors Company

  • Coverys Group

  • ISMIE Indemnity

These companies have a history of providing robust financial and legal support for physicians and all have a financial strength rating of “A” from independent insurance rating company A.M. Best. These carriers use proprietary methodologies to set rates and there is no set standard rate across insurers for each specialty.

Historically, the medical malpractice climate has been steady in Colorado, thanks to comprehensive tort reform implemented in the 1980’s and upheld by the supreme court again in 1993. The effects of this early reform and subsequent endorsement by the court allow current Colorado doctors to enjoy a moderately priced and stable medical malpractice landscape with many insurance carriers to choose from.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements for Colorado in 2021

Colorado law requires individuals that are licensed and providing direct care to patients to maintain medical malpractice insurance or another indemnity against liability, with required minimum coverage amounts for claims against injury or death set at $1,000,000 per claim and $3,000,000 annual aggregate per year. Higher risk specialties may need more coverage.

Even in states where medical malpractice coverage is not mandated, most doctors choose to carry liability coverage. All doctors need to protect against the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit, and working with an independent broker to secure comprehensive medical malpractice insurance is fundamental to reducing risk in your practice.

Telemedicine in Colorado

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a monumental shift in how health care is delivered all over the country, but Colorado was already considered a leader in telehealth. By 2015, the state had already enacted legislation demanding telehealth parity – essentially, insurance companies were now required to reimburse telemedicine services at the same rate as face-to-face visits. In 2018, the state reallocated grant funding to expand broadband across the state in an effort to increase access to telehealth services.

When the governor declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 in early 2020, temporary legislation was quickly passed that allowed even more Coloradans to access the technology. Notably, Medicaid and CHP+:

  • expanded the types of telehealth services eligible for reimbursement

  • expanded what counts as telemedicine to include telephone and chat

  • allowed FQHCs, RHCs, and IHS to bill for telemedicine visits

After the governor’s order on April 1, 2020, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), which regulates the individual insurance and small and large group markets, quickly aligned the commercial market with medicare and Medicaid guidance. Self-funded employer plans, which fall under federal jurisdiction, were strongly encouraged by the DOI to align with the rest of the state.

With many of the emergency orders expiring, it remains to be seen whether Colorado will roll back telehealth mandates or allow those regulations to propel progressive and permanent legislation around telemedicine delivery. Research into telehealth indicates that patients are largely satisfied with the ease and quality of care, and data indicates that it is an effective method for monitoring patients with chronic conditions and delivering psychotherapy services.

Since physicians are held to the same standard of care regardless of whether they are practicing via telehealth or in-person visits, it is recommended that doctors carry insurance that specifically covers telemedicine. If you are unsure, consult with your insurance broker.

Malpractice Insurance Rates for Colorado Doctors

Rates in Colorado are moderate compared to the rest of the country. See below for approximate rates across all territories for limits of $1,000,000 Each Claim/$3,000,000 Aggregate (the minimum required limits of liability in Colorado). Higher-risk specialties may need more coverage.

Specialty Approximate Rate Minimum Rate Maximum Rate
Anesthesiology $15,000 $6,000 $17,000
Cardiovascular Disease Minor Surgery $18,000 $9,000 $26,000
Emergency Medicine $23,000 $16,000 $34,000
Family Practice No Surgery $11,000 $6,000 $17,000
General Surgery $40,000 $20,000 $61,000
Internal Medicine No Surgery $11,000 $6,000 $16,000
General Practice No Surgery $11,000 $6,000 $17,000
Obstetrics and Gynecology Major Surgery $52,000 $37,000 $77,000
Occupational Medicine $7,000 $4,000 $10,000
Ophthalmology No Surgery $7,000 $5,000 $13,000
Orthopedic Surgery No Spine $32,000 $20,000 $41,000
Gastroenterology No Surgery $13,000 $6,000 $16,000
Pediatrics No Surgery $11,000 $6,000 $16,000
Psychiatry $7,000 $5,000 $13,000
Radiology – Diagnostic $16,000 $6,000 $28,000

Tort Reform in Colorado

Like a large number of states in the 1970s, Colorado’s medical malpractice landscape fell quickly in disarray. Malpractice claim payouts were skyrocketing, medical malpractice insurance carriers were losing money, and the resulting exorbitant rates for premiums were wreaking havoc in the medical profession, causing doctors to flee the state to practice somewhere more practical.

As a result, the Colorado Medical Society (CMS) founded COPIC, a physician-led insurance company and a top insurance carrier in the state to this day, to protect Colorado physicians from the liability crisis. With premiums still rising, however, the state finally passed the Health Care Availability Act (HCAA) in 1988, which:

  • placed damage caps on malpractice awards and noneconomic damages

  • implemented periodic payments for future damages, and

  • created procedures and rules around evidence in medical malpractice cases.

The act was challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1993, further ingraining the laws for the state. In 2003, the cap on noneconomic damages was raised and the state passed a number of new reforms, including a physician apology law and a law limiting joint liability.

Colorado’s Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The Health Care Availability Act (HCAA), passed in 1988, originally placed a $1 million overall cap on malpractice awards and a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages In 2003, the cap on noneconomic damages was raised to $300,000.

The current caps on medical malpractice damages in Colorado as of 2021 are:

  • total damages limited to $1 million

  • noneconomic damages limited to $300,000

This cap coincides with the state’s required minimum medical malpractice insurance coverage amounts of $1,000,000 per claim and $3,000,000 annual aggregate per year.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

The major guidelines regarding the state’s medical malpractice statute of limitations are as follows:

  • An individual in Colorado is required to file a medical malpractice claim within two years from the date of injury or date of discovery (or date of reasonable discovery)

  • If the injury is not discovered within the two-year deadline, the claim must be filed within three years of the discovery (or when it should have been discovered)

  • In cases where a foreign object was left in the body, the three-year deadline does not apply

  • For minors younger than 6 at the time of injury, lawsuits can be filed up until the minor’s 8th birthday

  • For minors 6 or older at the time of injury, the two year deadline applies

In addition to filing a malpractice claim within the designated time period, plaintiffs must also file a certificate of review, which requires an expert (usually a physician) to agree that the claim is not frivolous.

Tail Insurance in Colorado

Doctors practicing in Colorado that have a claims-made policy but DON’T have Prior Acts insurance (also known as Nose Coverage) need a tail insurance policy to ensure that they’re protected from malpractice claims when changing jobs. Your exposure period begins with your retroactive date (the first date of employment with your last employer) and ends on the policy cancellation date (your last day seeing patients at that job). If a claim is made after your policy expires, tail malpractice insurance will protect you. Often before you begin a new job, your new employer will want to confirm you have tail coverage from your prior job. To get the best rates on tail insurance in Colorado, contact a broker before you notify your employer of your resignation.

When and why is tail insurance necessary?

When a physician ends their employment, their insurance coverage with that employer also ends. Because most liability policies are underwritten on a claims-made basis, if a claim is filed against you after you leave your employer and your insurance coverage has already ended, you can be exposed to a lawsuit. Tail insurance covers you from your retroactive date up to the last day the policy is in effect – with the ability to report claims years after the last day. Read more about options for tail insurance.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Outcomes in Colorado for 2020

The total medical malpractice payout in Colorado for 2020 was $24,846,500.

Closing Remarks

Overall, Colorado is a hospitable place for physicians to practice. Tort reform and damage caps have encouraged a competitive medical malpractice insurance marketplace, and the state ranks 10th by U.S. News in overall healthcare access, quality, and public health. Like many states across the country, rural residents still struggle with access to medical care, and healthcare accessibility and affordability continue to remain top priorities in the state.

MEDPLI helps doctors from all specialties. Whether you are a plastic surgeon in Denver, a radiologist in Colorado Springs, or a urologist in Aurora, we can help you find medical malpractice insurance. To get coverage from an A-rated carrier, contact us by requesting a quote.