- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.