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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Are medical malpractice insurance rates for physicians and surgeons expected to rise or fall in the near future?


This is an interesting question. Medical malpractice insurance (medical professional liability insurance) rates for physicians and surgeons have remained relatively stable over the past five years or so; however, for a variety of reasons, physician 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; and challenges to state tort reform laws.

  1. Fewer physicians in the work force. It is well known that physician practices are consolidating. Physicians and surgeons are gathering into larger groups to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, improve physician lifestyle, and comply with complex healthcare laws and regulations. This consolidation dilutes the physician/patient relationship.
  2. The rise of “super losses”: According to industry sources, large claims against physicians and surgeons are on the rise. And, what the company calls “super losses”, or those totaling more than $5 million, are increasing. These mega losses are now accounting for a larger percentage of claims submitted by physicians and surgeons. In the past decade, rates charged by defense counsel have increased significantly. According to one report, this is especially true for large firms where handling “bet the firm” litigation, defense costs can be $600 or more per hour.
  3. Hospitalists: In addition, as small, local hospitals and physician groups merge with faceless larger entities, patients have less hesitancy to sue than they had when they felt like they were suing their “friend”. The reduced supply of physicians in the marketplace will also put pressure on medical malpractice insurance rates.
  4. More patients: As baby boomers approach retirement, demand for medical care is expected to rise sharply, which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in medical malpractice insurance claims. The increase in the number of physicians in the next decade is likely to be much lower than the anticipated growth in the percentage of people over 65 over the same time frame. As a result, in some parts of the country, the physician population will struggle to meet demand. Patients, already irritated about office wait times, will have to wait even longer to see their physician, thereby potentially delaying diagnoses. Also, primary care physicians will be asked to perform more procedures and make more diagnoses in a day, thereby increasing the likelihood of being sued.
  5. Tort Reform: Another issue that could well lead to medical malpractice insurance rate increases for physicians and surgeons is the anticipated wave of legal challenges to established limitations on malpractice litigation, including caps on damages, shortened statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits, and caps on attorney fees—reforms which are largely credited for controlling the cost of medical malpractice insurance by reducing medical malpractice litigation.

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.

Five Things a Florida Dentist Should Look for in a Dental Malpractice Insurance Company


Fortunately for the Florida dentist, there are now several dental malpractice insurance companies in the State who are issuing dental malpractice insurance policies. Picking the right one is important, especially at the time of a claim.
The following are some considerations in choosing a dental malpractice insurance company:

  1. Does the Company specialize in dental malpractice insurance? The Florida dentist should pick a company that knows their business—not one where dentistry is a subset of a larger focus. For instance, if the malpractice insurance company specializes in insuring physicians and surgeons or or lawyers or accountants, everything dental may take a back seat, including defense and risk management. It is important to pick a dental malpractice company that understands the unique needs of the Florida dentist.
  2. Is the Company aggressive in defending dental malpractice claims? At the time of a loss, a Florida dentist surely wants a company that can roll up its sleeves and defend them, especially if the litigation is frivilous. It is vital to check with dental peers who have experienced lawsuits to see how aggressive the company was.
  3. Does the Company have enough experience in insuring dentists? A Florida dentist does not want to be with a company that is new or is just building up capital to be sold. During the malpractice crisis of the 1990’s, many Florida malpractice companies exited the State, leaving the clients high and dry and scrambling to find other coverage.
  4. Does the Company insure a significant number of dentists? Insurance is a “game” of large numbers. The more dentists a dental malpractice insurance company insures, and the wider the territorial range, the more stable it is. Especially for a litigious state like Florida, it is vital that the other states help to lessen the risk of a concentration of losses.
  5. Does the Company offer a Risk Management Program? As any Florida dentist who has been through dental malpractice litigation can tell, lawsuits are awful and should be avoided at all costs. A quality Risk Management Program, geared specifically to the dentist, and, hopefully, giving a premium credit, will help the Florida dentist avoid a dental malpractice lawsuit and the attendant problems it brings.

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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