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Medical malpractice insurance rates are expected to increase in 2024. In this article, medical malpractice insurance expert Max Schloemann discusses what’s driving these trends & how you can be prepared to deal with rate increases.

Record high medical malpractice jury awards to plaintiffs increased throughout 2023. According to data cited in a February 2024 Medscape Medical News article, a $261 million verdict in a highly publicized Florida case and a record $120 million award for a brain injured plaintiff in New York state were just two of 57 medical malpractice verdicts that exceeded $10 million or more in 2023.

Because this trend of “mega” medical malpractice verdicts is likely to continue in 2024 — along with higher legal defense costs and spikes in social inflation — we can also expect medical malpractice premium rates to increase. In this article, I discuss the key factors driving 2024 rate increases to help you understand and prepare for these trends. Reach out to a MEDPLI insurance broker if you have questions about medical malpractice coverage for 2024.

Excessively high verdicts expected to continue in 2024

Verdict awards of $10 million or more were reported by every U.S. state during the time period of 2016 to 2023, according to the Healthcare Liability Market Update, Powered by MedPro Group, an A-rated medical malpractice insurance carrier. MedPro’s “Large Verdict List” updated for 2023 paints a clear picture of the “mega” verdict trend set to continue into 2024. States reporting multiple medical malpractice verdicts exceeding $10 million include:

State Cases Total Awards
Florida 7 $400M
Georgia 9 $217M
Illinois 8 $241M
Massachusetts 4 $103M
Michigan 2 $42M
New Mexico 2 $508M
Oklahoma 2 $115M
Pennsylvania 6 $301M


Even some U.S. states which have never experienced exceptionally high medical malpractice payouts in the past are on MedPro’s “2023 Large Verdict List” – Alabama, Utah, and Idaho, for example.

Tort reforms are often cited as the reason for escalating jury awards, especially in states with no caps on either economic or non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. Even in states with non-economic damage caps, as of 2023 California and several other states have enacted reforms that increase non-economic damage caps incrementally each year.

Other than tort reforms, there seems to be no other clear-cut reason as to why juries are granting excessively high plaintiff awards. Although some medical liability industry professionals speculate that attorneys are demanding higher compensation for non-COVID related medical malpractice plaintiffs who may have been overlooked in the court system during the COVID pandemic. Also, jurors who are influenced by today’s social inflation attitudes regarding personal injury cases may be more sympathetic and partial to the pain and suffering of the patient, especially if an impersonal large healthcare corporation is a co-defendant with the physician or surgeon on trial. (See below to learn more about social inflation’s impact on medical malpractice insurance rates and jury payouts.)

How high verdicts affect medical malpractice premium rates

Many medical malpractice carriers usually do raise premiums annually to ensure solvency and availability of the company’s pool of insurance funds for all of its policyholders. But not surprisingly, medical malpractice insurance premium rates could escalate higher in 2024 as a result of excessively high jury awards to plaintiffs suing for malpractice.

One of the key factors that medical malpractice insurance carriers use in determining annual premium rates is the average amount that the carrier pays out per case on behalf of the physician/policyholder when the jury decides in favor of the plaintiff. Another factor is the frequency in which the carrier makes payouts over the course of the year. The more often that a carrier must pay out for extremely high-dollar jury verdicts, the higher the underwriting losses, and the greater likelihood of setting higher premium rates to help replenish those losses.

Two more factors driving higher premium rates in 2024

Higher legal defense costs for carriers

Most medical malpractice insurance carriers will provide a defense attorney with experience in defending their policyholders in liability lawsuits and will pay the cost of legal fees. However, the average cost between $50,000 and $100,000 for a physician’s legal defense is expected to rise as medical malpractice defense lawyers increase their fees in 2024. Legal defense costs can also escalate if a medical malpractice suit is more complex and/or drags on for several years, not to mention hidden or unexpected costs, such as payment of the plaintiff’s attorney fees. The rising cost of legal defense for policyholders is likely to be another contributing factor to medical malpractice insurance rate increases in 2024.

Social inflation

Social inflation has begun to have a greater effect on medical malpractice insurance rates, as well as an influence on higher jury awards, according to a May 2023 article on the Medical Economics website by Robert E. White, Jr., president of A-rated medical malpractice insurance carrier The Doctors Company and TDC Group.

White defines social inflation as a “spike in loss costs” when medical malpractice claim costs for carriers exceeds the growth of general economic inflation. He explains that these loss costs accumulate as jury verdicts and settlements are paid out over time, thus increasing the carrier’s annual loss costs. As a result, carriers ultimately increase premium rates to make up for those losses and ensure solvency of the pool of insurance funds.

According to “Medical Malpractice Claims and Impact of Social Inflation”, a 2023 study by The Doctors Company, “. . . the impact of social inflation is estimated to be between $2.4 billion and $3.5 billion over the past 10 years, or 8 to 11 percent of all incurred losses in that period for the scope of companies analyzed.”

Findings in the same study indicate that social inflation is also a driver in the current frequency of “mega” medical malpractice payouts. Changes in society’s attitudes and beliefs about medical malpractice litigation, entitlement to compensation for injuries, and the parties involved are all aspects of social inflation. Certain tactics of attorneys for the plaintiff is one example of how social inflation can affect jury awards. In this case, the attorney aims to trigger the jurors’ fear or “survival instinct”, and increase sympathy for the plaintiff, by portraying the physician/defendant as a threat or danger to the jurors and others in the community – thus influencing the jury to award the highest amount of compensation to the plaintiff.

The Doctors’ study warns that states that have relaxed caps or no caps at all on non-economic damages will likely see a continued increase in claim severity, and resulting increase in medical malpractice insurance rates, because of social inflation trends.

Save on medical malpractice insurance rates in 2024. Reach out to MEDPLI today.

Establishing a risk management strategy that focuses on patient safety, communication, and precise medical documentation is one of the best ways to potentially avoid a medical malpractice lawsuit. And partnering with an experienced MEDPLI medical malpractice insurance broker is the best way to shop for the right medical malpractice coverage for your medical specialty at a competitive rate in 2024.

Request a quote now and ask a MEDPLI Broker if you are eligible for a discount on medical malpractice premiums. We’re here to help physicians and surgeons in all specialties obtain strong medical malpractice coverage.