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Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Top Five Questions about Medical Malpractice Insurance in Florida

  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

How Much Does Florida Medical Malpractice Insurance Cost?

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

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