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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Workers’ Compensation Insurance for the Florida Physician and Dentist

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
While physicians and dentists are obligated to take precautions to ensure their workplaces are safe, accidents still happen. This is where Workers’ Compensation Insurance was designed to help.

Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that is essentially a compromise between labor and management. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance policy provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured or sickened in the course of their employment—either on the premises or away while acting on behalf of the practice. In exchange for this, workers relinquish their right to sue their physician or dental employers for the tort of negligence.

In general, a Workers’ Compensation Policy is a worker’s exclusive remedy for workplace injuries. It pays a portion of lost wages directly related to a work-related accident or illnss, compensation for past and future economic loss to compensate for permanent and partial physical impairments, medical expenses related to the on-the-job injury, and benefits to dependents of workers killed during the course of employment. As you can see, the policy combines disability insurance, health insurance, and life insurance into one plan.

Workers’ Compensation Policies are meant to eliminate the need for expensive and time-consuming litigation. Employees relinquish their right to collect for pain and suffering in exchange for not having to prove fault on the part of their employer in the event of a loss. So, under Workers’ Compensation Insurance, workers receive defined benefits regardless of whether they or their employer are partially or fully at fault in an accident.

What Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Injuries sustained by a worker “in the course and scope” of employment are covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance. These include injuries from accidents, workplace violence, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance also covers certain illnesses and occupational diseases contracted in the course of employment. For example, if a healthcare worker contracts AIDS from a needle puncture at work, the medical expenses and lost wages are covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

Who is Required to Purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
A medical and dental practice in the State of Florida is required to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance when it employs four or more employees, generally defined as people performing services at the direction of the employer. Florida allows sole proprietors and partners to cover themselves if they choose. Corporate owners are covered unless they exclude themselves.

It is advisable for a practice to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance regardless of the number of employees, in order to exempt the employer from becoming legally liable for the injury or illness of their employees. A single illness of an employee could bankrupt a practice which chooses not to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance. State inspectors are working hard to administer harsh fines and shut down those practices that are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance but do not carry it.

Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance Part of Any Other Insurance Policy
No, a Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy must be purchased separately.

How are Workers’ Compensation Premiums Determined?
Premiums for Workers’ Compensation Insurance are determined by the employer’s industry classification code and by annual payroll. The more risk involved in the business, such as roofing, the higher the premium. The rate for physician and dental offices is relatively low, because the risk of injury or sickness is low. The 2015 rate for a healthcare office is $.44 per $100 of payroll.

What can a Doctor or Dentist Do to Reduce His Workers’ Compensation Insurance Premium?
The best way for a physician or dentist to manage premium is to manage risk. A small practice may not be able to retain a Risk Manager on staff. Nevertheless, someone in the office should be responsible for loss control to keep workers safe, manage workers’ compensation insurance claims, and return employees to work quickly. The last thing a practice wants is to be assigned to the Assigned Risk Plan, or insurer of last resort, where the premiums are significantly higher than those of a standard carrier.

Some companies offer dividend programs for practices with a premium above the minimum which do not have workers’ compensation losses. Gracey-Backer, Inc. is privileged to have an excellent program with an “A” (Excellent) rated carrier to return 30% of your premium in the form of a dividend (as set by the Board of Directors) for offices who do not have claims. Even if there is a claim, the insured practice is guaranteed a 10% return premium in the form of a dividend. Please call for more information on the excellent Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program, offered exclusively by Gracey-Backer, Inc.

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

What will happen to Florida Dental Malpractice Insurance Rates in 2015?

In general, rates for dental malpractice insurance are relatively stable and should only inch up slightly in 2015. Having said that, there are territorial differences, procedural based differences, different appetites for anesthesia and botox—all requiring consideration to find the best carrier for the Florida dentist’s needs. It pays to shop around and to find a trusted advisor to guide you in the complex world of dental malpractice insurance.

Territorial Differences: Dental malpractice insurance companies determine rates partially by territory. In general, a more urban, populated area of Florida is more suit-prone than a rural, less populated area. Some counties have a higher proportion of litigation attorneys relative to Dentists, thereby bringing on dental malpractice claims. Most dental malpractice companies rate up for Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Some rate up for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The remainder of the State of Florida is one rating territory, with generally lower rates.

Procedural Based Rating for Dentists: Some companies are increasing rates for dentists performing higher risk procedures, such as surgical placement of implants or extractions of impacted teeth. Simple extractions are exempt from this rate increase. This trend should continue through the next few years, as the economy forces more and more general dentists to veer into performing procedures formerly reserved for oral surgeons and periodontists. Regretably, claims are occurring with greater severity and frequency, thereby driving up rates.

Rating Up for Anesthesia: If a dentist uses IV or IM sedation, or employs multi-dose oral sedation or general anesthesia, his rates will increase, depending on the carrier. The dental malpractice insurance companies have determined that the risk of a dental lawsuit is higher for dentists who work under these anesthesia vehicles.

Botox: Many general dentists are now doing dermal filler tharapy and Botox therapy in their offices. Both are immensely popular and, according to our clients, easy to accomplish by a general dentist with proper training. We are asked all the time if a general dentist will pay more for medical malpractice insurance if he performs facial cosmetic procedures. The answer is not usually. Where companies used to charge more for malpractice insurance for dentists performing these procedures, most have eliminated the charge.

The bottom line is that dental malpractice insurance underwriting is changing, as more dentists perform riskier procedures. Rising dental malpractice premiums are forcing some general dentists to drop these procedures. Other dentists are going ahead and paying the higher premium.

Remember that there is competition in the dental malpractice insurance marketplace. It pays to shop around—with a specialized dental malpractice insurance agent who handles more than one medical malpractice insurance company. It pays to compare dental malpractice insurance carriers, rates, and coverage to find the policy that best fits your particular needs. (Always be sure that you are not receiving an inferior dental malpractice insurance product, however, as that could spell disaster at the time of a claim.)

We at Gracey-Backer, Inc. have specialized in dental malpractice insurance for Florida dentists and oral surgeons since 1982. We represent the finest dental malpractice carriers in Florida and can help the Florida dentist find the policy and premium that best suits his or her needs.

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

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

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