Illinois Doctors Buying Guide to Medical Malpractice Insurance

Illinois Medical Professional Liability Insurance Market Summary

Doctors in Illinois have great options for medical liability insurance. The top carriers are:

  • ISMIE, the largest carrier in Illinois with around 35% of the market share
  • MedPro
  • The Doctors Company
  • ProAssurance
  • NORCAL
  • Aspen American Insurance Co.

These companies have proven to provide robust financial and legal support for doctors, and all have an A-rating from A.M. Best.

These carriers use proprietary methodologies to set rates and there is no set standard rate across insurers for each specialty. However, Illinoisan physicians tend to buy policies with $1,000,000 a claim/$3,000,000 aggregate per year in coverage.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements for Illinois in 2020

Illinois does not have any legal mandate that practicing physicians carry medical malpractice insurance. However, most hospitals and physician’s offices in Illinois make it a requirement that doctors carry malpractice insurance if they want admitting privileges. Additionally, having malpractice insurance is the safest way to ensure you’re protected in case of a lawsuit, especially since Illinois has no cap on medical malpractice damages.

Standard limits for most doctors are $1,000,000 a claim/$3,000,000 aggregate per year in liability coverage. Higher-risk specialties like surgeons and OB/GYNs will need more coverage.

Medical Malpractice Insurance and COVID-19

When COVID-19 cases in Illinois started to rise in March 2020, the state took decisive action and mandated stay-at-home orders. Rules were relaxed when the rate of new cases dropped, but the state has seen a steady rise in new daily cases ever since. As of late August 2020, the state had 228,000 cases, and 20 states were at Warning Level.

The worst outbreaks of COVID-19 have been at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Because of this, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that the state is deploying strike teams to help these facilities manage the virus. Those teams will include doctors, nurses and public health officials. The state is also expanding testing, which will be administered by additional nurses sent to assisted-living facilities.

Back in April of 2020, hospitals across Illinois bolstered their healthcare staff to help with the pandemic. They did this by increasing salaries for nurses and physicians to woo them from other states. The state also made it easier for retired physicians to renew their licenses.

Doctors and nurses are still in short supply, and with COVID-19 cases on the rise, there is a strong chance Illinois’s healthcare system will be overrun. With the symptoms of COVID-19 varying from patient to patient, the risk of misdiagnosis is high. It is recommended that any physician practicing medicine in Illinois during the COVID-19 public health emergency be protected by medical malpractice insurance.

Telemedicine in Illinois

In April 2020, Governor JB Pritzker expanded telehealth services in Illinois and launched the Remote Patient Monitoring Program and mental health support line. The statewide program is designed specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. It allows Pandemic Health Workers (PHWs) to virtually visit recipients on a daily basis, deliver wellness kits that include tools for health monitoring, and follow-up over a 14-day period. Wellness kits include thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and alcohol wipes.

Illinois implemented emergency rules to its telehealth policy for patients that use Illinois Medicaid. These changes include:

  • Illinois Healthcare & Family Services will repay “medically necessary and clinically appropriate telehealth and virtual care services” that occurred on or after March 9, 2020 until the COVID-19 public health emergency is over. Providers are required to be paid the same rate for telehealth services as services delivered by in-person methods.
  • Modes of communication that can be used for telehealth services have been expanded to include audio-only telephone communication
  • “Originating sites” (locations where patients receive telehealth services) have been expanded, including in their home or other temporary location within or outside the state of Illinois. A physician or other licensed health care professional is not required to be present at all times with the patient during the provision of services at the originating site.
  • More behavioral health services are available via telehealth, except for Mobile Crisis Response and Crisis Stabilization

Doctors that take care of patients via telehealth are subject to the same liabilities as with in-person treatment. It is recommended that doctors carry insurance that specifically covers telemedicine.

Malpractice Insurance Rates for Illinoisan Doctors

Medical malpractice insurance rates for doctors practicing in Illinois are above the national average and rank with other high-premium states, like New York. This is largely because Illinois has no cap on medical malpractice damages, and plaintiffs can collect high amounts for both economic and non-economic injuries. Medical malpractice payouts in Illinois for 2019 totaled $203,242,000, one of the highest total payouts in the country that year.

It is important to note that insurance companies in Illinois look at many factors when underwriting a policy for a doctor. They look at location, specialty, and the doctor’s claims history to set rates.

In Illinois, the areas that carry the highest rates are Chicago (Cook County) and the Metro East (the IL side of greater St. Louis – Madison and St. Clair Counties).

Though every policy is underwritten by case, the following estimates will give you an idea of costs by specialty in Illinois. Reach out to a broker like MEDPLI to get an exact quote from multiple carriers.


State filed rates from 2016

Tort Reform in Illinois

There has been much back and forth on tort reform in the state of Illinois. In 2005, the state implemented damage caps on non-economic injuries of $500,000 for doctors and $1 million for hospitals. Non-economic damages included compensation for injuries like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and consortium.

Later, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the damage cap on non-economic injuries as unconstitutional.

Illinois’s Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Illinois currently has no limit on compensation for economic or non-economic injuries as a result of medical malpractice. However, Illinois does not allow rewards for punitive damages for medical malpractice lawsuits.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

Under Illinois law, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed:

  • Within two (2) years from the date the patient knew or should have known of the injury
  • Illinois’s laws regarding the state or repose prohibits patients from bringing a lawsuit more than four (4) years after the medically negligent act occurred
  • There is a special statute of limitations for patients who are minors at the time the medical malpractice occurred. Anyone under the age of 18 has up to eight (8) years to file a lawsuit, as long as the suit is filed before the patient turns 22

Tail Insurance in Illinois

If you are a physician practicing in Illinois with a claims-made policy and you DON’T have Prior Acts insurance (also known as Nose Coverage), having tail insurance will ensure you’re protected if you change jobs. Tail insurance covers the gap between your retroactive date with your former employer to your start date with your new employer. To get the best rates on tail insurance, contact a broker before you notify your employer of your resignation.

When and why is tail insurance necessary?

When a doctor leaves an employer, their insurance coverage with that employer ends on the last day of employment. Since most malpractice insurance policies are underwritten on a claims-made basis, you will be exposed to a lawsuit if someone files a claim against you after you leave your employer and before the policy with your new employer kicks in. Tail insurance covers you during that interim time. Read more about tail malpractice insurance.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Outcomes in Illinois for 2019

TOTAL PAYOUT

The total medical malpractice payout in Illinois for 2019 was $203,242,000.



Closing Remarks

Illinois has benefits and disadvantages when it comes to practicing medicine in the state. WalletHub ranked Illinois as one of the bottom 10 states to practice medicine in the United States, largely because medical malpractice insurance rates are high. However, most specialists practicing in Illinois earn more than the national average, and the state is also offering high salaries for doctors willing to relocate to Illinois during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

If you’re an OB/GYN working in Chicago, a doctor practicing internal medicine in Peoria, or a surgeon working in Naperville, reach out to MEDPLI. We’ll help you obtain coverage from an A-rated carrier no matter where you are located in Illinois.

MEDPLI offers tail insurance, group coverage, private practice malpractice coverage, and more. See our Products & Services page to find out how we can help you.

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