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Malpractice for Doctors



August 15, 2017

  1. Are Florida doctors required to carry medical malpractice insurance?
    The answer is simple: yes and no. Florida doctors are generally required to purchase medical malpractice insurance in order to practice. If they wish to have hospital privileges, they are generally required to purchase $250,000 of insurance coverage or more.
    There is one hitch, however. Florida doctors may demonstrate financial responsibility to cover potential claims for medical malpractice if they: post bond, establish an escrow account, obtain an irrevocable letter of credit, and hang a sign in their office stating to their patients that they do not carry medical malpractice insurance.
  2. How much will a Florida doctor pay for medical malpractice insurance?
    Premiums for medical malpractice insurance in Florida have stabilized in recent years, the result of competition in the marketplace. Those specialties paying the highest premiums in Florida are Obstetrics and Gynecology, General Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Emergency Medicine and Neurosurgery. The lowest rates for medical malpractice insurance in Florida are paid by Psychiatry, Occupational Medicine and Allergy.
  3. Will Florida medical malpractice insurance premiums rise or fall in the future?
    Medical malpractice insurance rates for Florida doctors have remained relatively stable over the past five years or so; however, for a variety of reasons, Florida medical malpractice insurance rates are expected to rise over the next decade. These reasons include:

    • The consolidation of physician and surgeon medical practices;
    • The rise in “super losses”;
    • Physicians and surgeons being employed by hospitals;
    • Increased demand for healthcare caused by aging population and requirements of the Affordable Care Act;
    • The recent ruling that the cap on noneconomic damages for personal injury awards or settlements in medical negligence cases is unconstitutional.
  4. How can a Florida doctor reduce his medical malpractice insurance rates without sacrificing quality?
    In an effort to gain market share, Florida medical malpractice insurance companies offer significant discounts to those doctors who seem most attractive to them. These include:

    • Claims-free discount – Claims-free discount are offered to doctors the company most wants to attract. These claims-free discounts can be significant. Usually a company requires that a physician be claims-free for five years to receive any discount. The longer he remains claim-free, generally the greater the credit.
    • New-to-practice discount – A doctor just getting out of residency may receive a new-to-practice credit, generally in the area of 50%. This discount may be offered over 2-3 years, as the new doctor gains more experience and also more exposure to litigation.
    • Risk Management Credit – A doctor who successfully passes a company-approved risk management course may be eligible for a credit, usually between 5% and 10%. The course will need to be refreshed every few years to continue the credit.
    • Board Certification – A board certified physician may often receive a discount. The more board certifications, the greater the discount.
    • Society Memberships – Membership in National, Regional, or State Medical Societies can often result in a discount, depending on the insurance company.
    • Large Group Discount – A large group is appealing to a Florida malpractice insurance company, especially if the group is relatively claims-free. Credits can be negotiated by the agent.
  5. How should a Florida doctor choose a medical malpractice insurance company with all the options out there?
    First of all, a Florida doctor should choose a medical malpractice insurance company with a strong rating by A.M. Best & Co., preferably a rating of “A-“ or better.

    Look at the premium charged by the Florida medical malpractice insurance company. If it is too much less than the competition, ask why? Remember that the premium charged is long forgotten at the time of a loss, when the quality of defense is paramount. Check on the credits allowed to see if you qualify.

    Choose a medical malpractice company that specializes in coverage for physicians and surgeons in Florida. You will want a company with a strong history of defending Florida doctors. Check its list of defense attorneys. Ask around. Your colleagues who have experienced a lawsuit may be more than willing to tell you about their experience with a particular company.

If you have any questions or need help navigating the complex world of medical malpractice insurance in Florida, please call Gracey-Backer, Inc. at 800-272-6055.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.



August 1, 2017

The cost of medical malpractice insurance in Florida varies depending on the type of practice a doctor has, where it is located, claims, the limits of liability on the medical malpractice insurance policy, and a number of other factors which are listed below.

Medical specialty: Neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, orthopaedic surgeons, obstetricians, and emergency medicine doctors will pay premiums that are higher than average for medical malpracitce insurance. This is because patients are more likely to have complications or because they have more serious illnesses or injuries.

Location of the practice: A physician in Duval county will pay less for his malpractice insurance than a physician in Dade county, assuming their specialty is the same.

Tort Reform: If the doctor’s state has enacted meaningful medical malpractice tort reform legislation, and if claim amounts are capped by statute, medical malpractice insurance premiums will be lower than they were without tort reform.Caps on how much money patients injured by a doctor’s mistake can receive were declard unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on June 8, 2017. These caps were put into place in 2003.

Limits of liability: Higher limits of liability on a medical malpractice insurance policy result in higher medical malpractice insurance premiums.

Claims experience: If a doctor has experienced claims activity, his or her Florida medical malpractice insurance premium will reflect this experience.

Risk profile: Medical malpractice insurance companies are concerned about the number and types of surgeries a physician performs. Physician malpractice insurance policies will be rated accordingly.

Policy provisions: Some medical malpractice insurance companies offer more robust policies but have higher premiums than others, which offer more stripped-down policies.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Premium Credits

The following are examples of credits often available for physician and surgeon medical malpractice insurance in Florida:

Loss Free Credit — Available if the physician or surgeon has not had a claim in 3, 5, 10 or even 20 years. Credits vary, but can be as much as 25% of the medical malpractice insurance base premium, especially if there is competition from other medical malpractice insurance carriers.

New-To-Practice Credit – Physicians and surgeons who are just beginning their practice have very little exposure to malpractice claims. The first year malpractice insurance premium discount is often as much as 50%. Premium credits diminish over time and, after a period, are no longer available as the physician is no longer new-to-practice.

Risk Management Credit – Some medical malpractice insurance companies offer credits for taking an approved risk management course. Sometimes there is a charge for taking the course. Sometimes it is offered at no charge. Credits are normally 5-10% of the malpractice insurance premium and are good for a few years, at which time the course must be taken again. Courses are offered live or on-line. We highly recommend that a Florida physician or surgeon take a risk management course to reduce the likelihood of having a claim. Remember, medical malpractice claims are awful, no matter who is at fault and no matter the outcome.

Board Certification Discount – This discount is available to physicians and surgeons who successfully complete their board certification. Different medical malpractice insurance carriers give different credits.

Part-Time Credit – A physician or surgeon may receive a sizeable credit on malpractice insurance for working reduced hours, depending on the company. Credits range from 25% to 50% for physicians or surgeons working 20 hours or less per week.

Large Group Credit – Physicians and surgeons who work as part of a larger group may receive premium credits simply for being part of a group. Competitive pressures force many companies to apply significant credits to take a large group from a competitor.

Society Credits – Some medical malpractice insurance companies specialize in putting together malpractice insurance programs for groups of similar specialty physicians. There can also be credits for belonging to a national, state, county or local medical society.

Discretionary Credits – Most medical malpractice insurance carriers can apply discretionary credits depending on how badly they wish to secure or retain a piece of business.

It is important that you ask about receiving maximum credits. We have seen many cases where a physician or surgeon, simply by asking, has been able to reduce the cost of his malpractice policy, especially if he is in a good bargaining position with a clean record and a preferred specialty. At Gracey-Backer, Inc., we specialize in securing the highest quality medical malpractice insurance for our physician and surgeon clients at the best price. We have been serving the physicians and surgeons of Florida since 1925. Our team of professionals works tirelessly so you, the Florida physician and surgeon, can focus on what you do best.

John Gracey Backer, CPA


John Gracey Backer, CPA, is the Treasurer of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance for the Healthcare Provider. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 128, or at john@gbifl.com.



July 18, 2017

Florida doctors face significant financial challenges in maintaining their practices. Among these challenges is the cost of medical malpractice insurance. There are ways to save significant premium dollars on this insurance that the Florida doctor might not realize. By “shopping” his medical malpractice insurance, the Florida doctor can reap huge savings without sacrificing quality.

Currently, the Florida medical malpractice insurance marketplace is relatively stable and very competitive. This is good news for Florida doctors wishing to purchase medical malpractice insurance. Most of the major medical malpractice insurance companies in Florida offer hefty discounts to differentiate themselves from the competition. It is vital for Florida doctors to realize that medical malpractice discounts can apply to their practices.

The following discounts on medical malpractice insurance policies are available to Florida doctors. Check to see if you qualify:

  • New-To-Practice Credit – Doctors just starting out in practice have very little exposure to litigation. Therefore, Florida medical malpractice companies often apply significant discounts during the first two or three years of practice. The first year malpractice premium discount is often as much as 50%. Premium credits for the new practitioner diminish over time and, after a period, are no longer available as the doctor is no longer new-to-practice.
  • Loss Free Credit – Available to those Florida doctors that the malpractice insurance company most wants to attract. Available if the doctor has not had a claim in 3, 5, 10 or even 20 years. Credits vary, but can be as much as 25% of the medical malpractice base premium, especially if there is competition from other medical malpractice insurance carriers.
  • Society Memberships – Membership in National, Regional, or State Medical Societies can often result in a discount. Some medical malpractice companies specialize in putting together malpractice insurance programs for groups of similar specialty physicians.
  • Large Group Discount – A large group is appealing to a Florida malpractice insurance company, especially if the group is relatively claims-free. Competition forces malpractice insurance companies to apply credits to take a large group from a competitor.
  • Part-Time Credit – A Florida doctor may receive a sizeable credit on malpractice insurance for working reduced hours. Credits generally range from 25% to 50% for Florida doctors working 20 hours or less per week.
  • Risk Management Credit – Some medical malpractice insurance companies offer credits for taking an approved risk management course. Sometimes there is a charge for taking the course. Sometimes it is offered at no charge. Credits are normally 5% of the malpractice insurance premium and are good for a few years, at which time the course must be taken again to continue the credit. Courses are normally offered on-line.
  • Board Certification Discount – This discount is available to physicians and surgeons who successfully complete their board certification. Different medical malpractice insurance carriers give different board certification credits. Some carriers require board certification as a prerequisite to insuring the doctor.
  • Discretionary Credits – Most medical malpractice carriers can apply discretionary credits depending on how badly they wish to secure a piece of business.

It is important that you ask about receiving maximum credits. We have seen many cases where a physician or surgeon, simply by asking, has been able to reduce the cost of his medical malpractice insurance policy, especially if he is in a good bargaining position with a clean record and a preferred specialty.

In any case, it is important to:

Choose the right payment option

Most Florida medical malpractice insurance companies will allow annual, quarterly, or monthly payments. While this is a good thing, be sure to determine if finance charges apply. While spreading payments out can greatly improve cash flow for a practice, it sometimes comes at a cost. Some physician practices in Florida employ a bank’s line of credit to pay medical malpractice insurance premiums. Others pay the premium in one lump sum, thereby avoiding finance charges. Then, through the year, they bank money to pay in full the next year, again avoiding finance costs. And, finally, some medical malpractice insurance companies on Florida will allow doctors to pay in installments with no finance charge. Some companies will require ACH/EFT to offer monthly payments. This is a competitive tool that can benefit the Florida doctor.

David C. Backer


David C. Backer, of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 114, or at david@gbifl.com.



June 20, 2017

The good news is there is a lot of competition now in Florida among medical malpractice insurance companies. Florida rates are “soft” and medical malpractice insurance companies need volume to compensate. The major malpractice insurance companies will throw on premium credits for good business.

The bad news is that it is often difficult for a doctor to choose the right medical malpractice insurance company for his practice in Florida. Some offer low rates, some have dividend programs, some have extra coverages that make their programs more attractive.

So how does a Florida doctor go about choosing the best medical malpractice insurance carrier in Florida?

In many cases, the choice of malpractice carriers might be made for him. If he joins an existing practice, that practice probably already has gone through the process of choosing an insurance provider and is happy with its malpractice insurance carrier. If he is employed by a hospital, he does not have to consider the implications of malpractice insurance.

But…for an independent practitioner looking for medical malpractice insurance, or for a group wishing to explore the Florida malpractice marketplace, the following should be considered:

  • Quality of the company—As determined by its A.M. Best & Co. rating. Should be in the “A” range with a substantial size. Small companies may not be able to absorb a large loss.
  • Length of time in the State of Florida—Important to understand the unique Florida marketplace. Talk with your peers about their experience in the Florida insurance arena.
  • Premiums offered for a specialty—Probably the biggest consideration for most doctors. But beware if the medical malpractice premium is too good to be true. Some companies have the reputation of offering low premiums the first year and then increasing them later.
  • Dividend or profit-sharing programs available—To reward doctors for loyalty to a malpractice insurance company. Often redeemable at retirement. An excellent forced savings plan for doctors in Florida.
  • Risk management courses—To give premium credits and lessen the chances of having a claim.
  • “Bells and whistles” on the malpractice policy—Such as Cyber Liability coverage, coverage for DPR events, Employment Practices Liability coverages, etc.

As we say in our office, no one regrets having the right insurance at the time of a loss. The choice of medical malpractice carriers is one of the most important considerations for a Florida doctor. The decision should be made wisely and with regard to the above important considerations.

And when should a Florida doctor re-evaluate his coverage? In a perfect world, he should review and compare his medical malpractice insurance policy with the rest of the market every year. Whenever a Florida practice changes in size, adds or drops practitioners, or has a significant change in scope, the medical malpractice insurance needs should be re-evaluated. An experienced Florida medical malpractice insurance agent can do this for the Florida doctor—at no cost or obligation.

John Gracey Backer, CPA


John Gracey Backer, CPA, is the Treasurer of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance for the Healthcare Provider. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 128, or at john@gbifl.com.



June 6, 2017

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) sets the rates for Florida Workers’ Compensation insurance, based on the likelihood of injury and resultant medical costs. The cost of Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance is based on three primary factors:

  • The type of work the employees do;
  • The gross payroll for all employees, including salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions and draws against commissions, plus holiday, vacation and sick pay;
  • The state where the business is located;

Premiums for Florida workers’ compensation insurance are calculated by the following formula:
Payroll (per $100) X Classification Rate X Experience Modifier = Premium

Sole proprietors are excluded from Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage unless they request to be included. Corporate officers are automatically covered by the Florida Workers’ Compensation policy unless they request to be excluded.

The simplest way to calculate the annual premium for Florida Workers’ Compensation is to multiply the annual payroll by the rate classification.

The 2017 Florida Workers Compensation Classification Rate for a physician, oral surgeon or dentist in Florida is $.48 per $100 of payroll.

As an aside, Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance rates increased by 14.5% in December 2016, in response to the overturning of two court rulings:

The Florida Supreme Court ruling on April 28, 2016 stated that the attorney fee schedule that was passed in 2009 was unconstitutional as a violation of due process in the case of Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Company, et. al.

Also, on June 9, 2016, The Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Bradley Westphal vs. City of St. Petersburg, etc, et al declaring the 104-week limitation on temporary total disability benefits unconstitutional.

Because Gracey-Backer, Inc. insures over 2,000 physicians, surgeons, oral surgeons, and dentists in Florida, we were able to use that leverage as bargaining power and we created an exclusive workers’ compensation insurance dividend program. Our exclusive workers compensation insurance dividend program for Florida healthcare providers offers a guaranteed 10% dividend and up to a potential 30% dividend on your Workers’ Compensation Insurance, based on your individual loss experience. You are not grouped with other practices, and therefore are not hurt by their claims. That’s 30% that goes right to your bottom line.

Call us today to learn more about Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Florida physicians, surgeons, oral surgeons and dentists.

Barbara Gracey Backer


Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at barbara@gbifl.com.


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