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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Five Reasons a Dentist Will Purchase an “Occurrence” Policy Rather than a “Claims-Made” policy for Dental Malpractice Insurance


There are two forms of dental malpractice insurance that a dentist can purchase. These are claims-made policies and occurrence policies. This article will focus on the occurrence policy. Dentists customarily purchase an occurrence policy in the following situations:

  • The company just offers the occurrence policy;
  • They are practicing part-time (less than 20 hours per week) and are unsure of their future;
  • They are working for a larger practice and do not want to have to purchase a tail policy if they leave;
  • They are nearing retirement and do not want to deal with a tail policy issue;
  • They are currently working in Florida but may plan to move to another state.

What is an occurrence policy? An occurrence policy protects a dentist from a lawsuit based on an incident which occurred based on work he did while the dental malpractice insurance policy is in force. The dental malpractice insurance policy then covers those dental incidents forever. For example, a dentist purchases an occurrence malpractice insurance policy in 2010 and treats client X in 2011 and then terminates the policy in 2012. In 2014, client X sues the dentist for an incident based on work he did in 2011. The dentist is covered because he was insured by the occurrence policy in 2011, the year he treated client X. With an occurrence policy, it does not matter if the dentist is covered when the lawsuit is brought against him.

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.

Florida Supreme Court Tosses out Medical Malpractice Cap on Damages


Florida Supreme Court Tosses out Medical Malpractice Cap on Damages
On Thursday, March 13, 2014, the Florida Supreme court, in a 5-2 ruling, threw out the heart of the 2003 medical malpractice overhaul law which limited noneconomic damages in medical professional liability lawsuits. The court maintained that the cap violated the state’s Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The ruling, which was written by Justice R. Fred Lewis, said that the legislators created an ”alleged medical malpractice crisis” to jam through the caps on damages. The effect of this legislation, according the Justice Lewis, was to save “a modest amount for many by imposing devastating costs on a few.”

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed the law during a special session called by then Governor Jeb Bush, with the support of Florida doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies, who supported the caps in an attempt to reduce exploding medical malpractice insurance premiums and keep physicians from limiting their medical practices or moving out of the State of Florida. The legislation limited payments for pain and suffering to $500,000 or $1 million, depending on the circumstances of the case. Lewis concluded that the law unconstitutionally discriminates against “those who are most grievously injured, those who sustain the greatest damage and loss, and multiple claimants.” Trial attorneys complained that the law was unfair because a person injured because of medical malpractice was treated differently under the law than someone injured because of another kind or wrongful act or negligence.

Thirty-five states have some type of cap on medical malpractice awards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Florida Medical Association countered that the damage caps have helped reduce medical malpractice insurance premiums and that the ruling would harm the economy of the state in its ability to attract doctors.
It is uncertain whether another damage cap could pass this session.

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.

Why Does a Dentist in Florida need a Dental Malpractice Insurance Broker?


At the risk of sounding self-serving, we would like to tell you why we think you as a Florida dentist should employ the services of a Dental Malpractice Insurance Agent or Broker when buying or renewing his or her Dental Malpractice Insurance.

For a Florida Dentist, the process of choosing your dental malpractice insurance may sound simple. After all, it is only a promise to protect you in the event of a claim. You think you may never use it. It probably sits on the shelf in your office collecting dust—until the day you need it. And then, it is the most important document you have. If you are contacted by a Plaintiff Attorney, you will be very glad that you had help choosing the right policy with the best company for you. The decision which seemed simple is now complex. A quality dental malpractice insurance agent can help you find the right dental malpractice insurance company and renew with the right company, year after year. After all, the market changes, and what is best for you today may not be best for you ten years from now.
A dental malpractice insurance agent or broker customarily represents several dental malpractice insurance companies in Florida. He or she knows them well. He goes to their meetings. He talks with their underwriters probably on a daily basis. He works that relationship to negotiate coverage and price for you. And, if you have a problem, your agent can be your advocate with the company.

Some carriers tout the fact that they can save you premium dollars by going direct to you, thereby bypassing the insurance broker. This sounds like a good idea, until the dentist looks beneath the surface. These carriers often have management companies and bulky staffs to handle the work of the agent or broker. They do not “shop” your dental malpractice insurance policy every year to give you the option of going with a better or less expensive dental malpractice insurance company. And, if their product is inferior, you will never know it because you have given up your option to compare.

For example, while a particular carrier may not be the cheapest one in the marketplace, it often has features that more than make up for its higher premium over the long term. It may have risk management credits, which enable you to reduce your premium while helping to avoid a claim in the first place. It may give hefty credits for excellent loss experience. It may be able to attract the best attorneys in Florida because of its reputation and experience. Its policy might be rich in added features, coverages which may spell the difference between success or failure of your practice. A dental malpractice insurance broker knows these things, and can guide you to the right company for you.
A broker or agent can also look out for potential pitfalls in a dental malpractice insurance policy: a demand rather that an incident trigger, defense costs outside rather than inside the limits of liability, assessments in the event of excessive losses, or lack of protection by the Florida Guaranty Fund. There are many potholes out there that could snag a dentist without assistance from a professional.

A broker also knows the factors to look for when choosing a dental malpractice insurance company: its reputation, its rating, its stability, its history in Florida, its customer satisfaction ratings, tail provisions, and other factors that would be difficult for a dentist to determine on his own.

The best part of all this is that the services of a Dental Malpractice Insurance agent or broker do not cost you a thing. Brokers are paid by the insurance company. Brokers and agents bring companies their clients. If the company is not competitive, the broker will go to another dental malpractice insurance company. So, a broker is someone who performs the research, does the shopping, negotiates the premiums for you but is paid by the dental malpractice insurance company for bringing them their customers. It is truly a win/win situation for you, the valued Florida dentist.

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.

How Do I Choose the Right Company for my Medical Malpractice Insurance?


Choosing the right company to protect your practice and your reputation is one of the most important decisions a physician or surgeon in Florida will ever have to make. Cutting corners on this decision could spell disaster in the event of large claim.

A physician or surgeon in Florida needs to have medical malpractice insurance to cover claims for medical errors, misdiagnosis, or other situations where a patient suffers injury. There are a number of companies in Florida anxious to write medical malpractice insurance for physicians and surgeons. The one you select can have important ramifications for your practice in the event of a claim.

Because we have been in the business of selling and servicing Medical Malpractice Insurance Policies in Florida since the early 1980’s, we have seen insurance companies come and go. There were once approximately 40 medical malpractice insurance carriers in Florida, lured to the state by high malpractice insurance premiums in general and loose regulation. In order to attract new business, many of them offered low prices. They marketed physicians and surgeons aggressively. They undercut the quality carriers in the state, sending the market into a tailspin. And then they abandoned the State of Florida, leaving wreckage behind and doctors unable to find quality malpractice coverage because they had chosen an uncommitted carrier.

Because we have been through the ups and downs of the Florida medical malpractice insurance market, we would like to offer a few thoughts on the subject of choosing the right Medical Malpractice Insurance Company in Florida.
First of all, choose a malpractice insurance company that has a strong rating by A.M. Best & Co., the gold standard in rating the financial strength and stability of an insurance company. The worldwide rating and information company performs a thorough vetting of each medical malpractice insurance company and rates them according to their overall strength and ability to pay claims.

Second, choose a company that specializes in coverage for physicians and surgeons. Make sure that the company’s malpractice business is not an add-on to its primary business of insuring property. You want a company who knows the Florida market and Florida doctors inside and out. You want a company who knows Florida medical malpractice defense attorneys. After all, if you have a claim, you will be at the mercy of the defense attorney the company chooses to defend you. You want a company with a strong claims history—a strong culture of defending Florida physicians and surgeons. It is a good practice to ask your colleagues for suggestions, especially those physicians and surgeons who have been sued for malpractice and have personal experience with a medical malpractice insurer’s willingness and ability to defend and/or pay claims in a timely manner.

Third, choose a company with a comprehensive insurance policy. Comparing policies is more than determining which is the least expensive, or which provides the highest dollar amount of coverage. The added coverages and features that you need—cyber liability coverage, DPR defense coverage, free tail at retirement, etc. add up very quickly and can spell a real difference for your practice.

Fourth, choose a company that offers credits for claims-free experience and for risk management. These credits can go a long way toward reducing your premium over the long term. A quality risk management program, aimed at the physician and surgeon, can help reduce the likelihood that you will have a claim in the first place.

So, you can see that it is vital that you are insured with the right Medical Malpractice Insurance Company in Florida. Our staff stands ready and able to help you with this decision. We represent the finest companies and shop your policy every year to determine the right fit for you for the long term.

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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