Oregon Medical Professional Liability Insurance Market Summary

Doctors in Oregon have some good options for medical liability insurance. The top insurers in the state are:

  • The Doctors Company

  • Physicians Insurance – A Mutual Company

  • Medical Protective Group

  • MMIC Group

  • ISMIE Group

  • ProAssurance Group (Norcal)

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.

Despite a history of caps on damages and other tort reform measures passed in the state, medical malpractice insurance premiums have remained moderately priced for Oregon doctors.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements for Oregon in 2021

Medical professionals in Oregon are not required to obtain malpractice insurance. However, hospitals and other healthcare facilities may mandate that physicians carry medical malpractice insurance while working in their facility. Typically, Oregon physicians carry limits of $1 million per occurrence or claim and $3 million per annual aggregate. High-risk specialties like surgery or Obstetrics/Gynecology may need policies with higher liability limits.

Even the most competent doctors need to shield themselves against the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Partnering with an independent broker that can help you find comprehensive medical malpractice insurance is fundamental to reducing risk in any doctor’s practice.

Telemedicine in Oregon

In an attempt to promote equitable and safe access to healthcare for the residents of Oregon, the Governor signed House Bill 2508A on June 1, 2021, requiring payment parity for telehealthcare for the foreseeable future. Payment parity mandates that healthcare providers be reimbursed by insurance at the same rates for telehealth visits as in-person visits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many states enacted temporary payment parity. Now, Oregon joins states such as Washington, California, Arizona, and more in implementing payment parity on a permanent basis.

Although a report from Trilliant Health found that telehealth use is decreasing across the country post-pandemic, the rates at which Oregonians utilize telemedicine only slightly decreased. This could be due in part to the fact that many Oregonians live in rural and frontier communities where access to healthcare is limited, and individuals have become more reliant on technology to serve their needs.

All physicians practicing telemedicine in Oregon must meet the standard of care as described in the Oregon Medical Board’s Statement of Philosophy on Telemedicine. Since physicians are generally 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 Oregon Doctors

Medical malpractice insurance rates for Oregon doctors tend to be moderate when compared to other states.

Specialty Average Rate Minimum Rate Maximum Rate
Anesthesiology $11,000 $8,000 $13,000
Cardiovascular Disease Minor Surgery $13,000 $10,000 $17,000
Emergency Medicine $18,000 $9,000 $23,000
Family Practice No Surgery $9,000 $6,000 $10,000
Neurology No Surgery $12,000 $9,000 $13,000
Internal Medicine No Surgery $9,000 $7,000 $10,000
General Practice No Surgery $11,000 $6,000 $17,000
Obstetrics and Gynecology Major Surgery $40,000 $25,000 $47,000
Occupational Medicine $6,000 $4,000 $7,000
Ophthalmology No Surgery $7,000 $4,000 $8,000
Orthopedic Surgery No Spine $23,000 $15,000 $29,000
Gastroenterology No Surgery $11,000 $9,000 $13,000
Pediatrics No Surgery $8,000 $6,000 $9,000
Psychiatry $6,000 $5,000 $8,000
Radiology – Diagnostic $10,000 $8,000 $13,000

undiscounted state filed rate data averages across all territories for $1m / $3m limits

Tort Reform in Oregon

Like all states, Oregon has enacted several tort reform policies in an effort to stabilize the medical malpractice insurance landscape and reduce malpractice litigation, and the war over damage caps in the state continues to rage on into 2021. The state passed its first tort reform efforts in 1982, placing a $500,000 on noneconomic damages. It didn’t take long for this cap to be challenged in court.

In 1999 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the cap unconstitutional. Five years later the cap was proposed again, with the bill narrowly defeated by less than 1 percent. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled the cap to be unconstitutional again in 2013. The state finally reversed its ruling in 2016, stating that applying caps to damages awarded was constitutional. A July 2020 ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court struck down the cap again.

Oregon’s Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The current cap information for medical malpractice damages in Oregon as of June 2021 are:

  • Economic damages (reimbursement for out-of-pocket losses resulting from the injury) are NOT capped

  • Noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases (reimbursement for pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, etc.) are NOT capped

  • No caps on non-economic damages in personal injury cases

Oregon’s comparative fault rule states that an injured plaintiff cannot recover damages if they are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the injury. If the injured plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or less at fault, they can recover damages in an amount reduced by the degree of fault. Also, in cases involving multiple defendants, each provider may be held liable only for their own conduct.

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 Oregon 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)

  • Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within three years of the date of injury

  • For minors, lawsuits can be filed up to 1 year after their 18th birthday, or 5 years after the date of injury, whichever occurs first

  • The state mandates that in most circumstances, a lawsuit must be filed within five years after the date of injury

Tail Insurance in Oregon

Doctors who are considering changing jobs while practicing in Oregon 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 their policy expires. Tail insurance needs to provide coverage from your retroactive date (the first date of employment with your last employer) through the policy cancellation date (your last day seeing patients at that job). If a malpractice lawsuit is filed after your policy ends, 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 Oregon, 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 Oregon for 2020

The total medical malpractice payout in Oregon for 2020 was $56,528,500

Closing Remarks

While it certainly is beautiful, Oregon is a largely rural state that continually suffers from shortages of healthcare providers. These providers are among the most vulnerable, as Oregon’s Medicare and Medicaid rates are among the lowest in the U.S. The state promotes several programs to help attract and retain medical talent in rural communities, including its rural practitioner tax credit program, student loan forgiveness, and tax-free loan repayment assistance.

Doctors in Oregon can also feel uneasy about the back and forth legislation over medical malpractice lawsuit award caps, with physicians in the state warning that doctors would retire early, stop offering high-risk procedures, or move to a different state if Oregon does not impose caps on damages.

Still, Oregon is home to numerous medical centers, with Portland boasting several high-performing and nationally ranked hospitals, including OHSU and Providence St. Vincent. The state is rich in natural beauty with mountains, beaches, and deserts to hike and explore. As an added bonus, Oregon does not impose a sales tax within the state.

MEDPLI helps doctors from all specialties. Whether you are a plastic surgeon in Portland, an OB/GYN in Salem, or a cardiologist in Eugene, we can help you find medical malpractice insurance. To get coverage from an A-rated carrier, contact us by requesting a quote.