As medical malpractice insurance specialists, we are often asked about which insurance company is best. This makes sense, in that choosing a professional liability insurance company is one of the most important decisions you will make for your practice. In today’s litigious climate, you cannot afford to be wrong in your choice of insurers. Your reputation and livelihood are at stake and you need a carrier that can protect you if you are sued.
It is important to select an insurer that has the financial strength to be there for you in the long term. Always ask for the company’s financial rating. There are a number of rating services. The oldest and most widely recognized one is A.M. Best & Co. Your company should have a rating of at least an A-.
It is important to choose a company with a long history, and especially a history in your state. Sometimes a new company thinks it can “do it better” than the old guard. Others entice doctors with low premiums, and then raise rates when claims begin to mount. Others are looking only as far as their next quarterly profits report or are responding to corporate goals to write new business in the state.
If its premium offering is much lower than other companies, you should find out why. Sometimes, if it is too good to be true, it is not too good!
Patient safety and risk management programs should be an integral part of the services provided by your insurer. It should be able to provide meaningful ways for you to reduce the likelihood of being sued in the first place. Often, live seminars are held In the state and on-line courses are provided for your convenience.
The following are examples of questions you should ask when choosing a Professional Liability Insurance Carrier:
- How long has the carrier been writing medical malpractice insurance?
- How is the company rated?
- Does it offer discounts for favorable loss experience?
- Is the insurer endorsed by state or national medical societies? If so, does it give a discount for membership?
- What kind of payment plan does the carrier offer?
- What risk management/patient safety services does the company have?
- How strong is the claims department? Are claims handled in-house or allocated to outside adjusters?
- If I move to another part of the country, is my policy portable?
- What are the tail options if I retire, die, or decide to move my coverage to another carrier?
- Is the company going to be around for the long term or is the plan to sell it when it is premium-rich?
- And finally, is my agent experienced in the nuances of professional liability coverage? Is malpractice insurance a big part of their business or just a sideline? Is their staff responsive and is integrity stressed? Does the agency have the strength to compare carriers within his stable of companies? Is their office able to handle all my insurance—my office policy, workers’ compensation, personal insurance and life and disability needs? Do I like them? Do I trust them?
These important choices will go a long way to providing peace of mind for you and your practice for years to come.
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 email@example.com.