South Florida Hospital News
Friday August 23, 2019
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July 2010 - Volume 7 - Issue 1

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Malpractice Insurance Expert Advice

Q: Do you see malpractice insurance rates in Florida for physicians and surgeons continuing to decrease in the next few years?

A: The malpractice insurance marketplace rates are governed primarily by the frequency rate of claims against doctors, the severity of judgments in malpractice cases, and the reinsurance market conditions. The great news of the last six or seven years since the 2003 tort reforms in Florida is that the frequency of claims has been dropping to near-historical lows while the severity has increased only slightly. The reinsurance markets have been reacting in a generally favorable manner, so most specialties of Florida doctors have seen their rates fall in the neighborhood of 50% in the last six years. On the reinsurance front we are hearing that the oil-spill payouts will not be hitting the reinsurance markets hard at all since BP was self-insured for most of its “never could happen” risk, but we may well see the reinsurers suffer with later loss-of-income claims from the affected coastal businesses.
 
I believe that the malpractice insurance market in Florida has now entered a new phase of level premiums for the next year. We will see pressure for small increases in the years to follow as the insurers’ profits are much thinner and expenses continue to rise. If the Florida Supreme Court follows Illinois’ and Georgia’s recent actions of overturning their states’ caps on non-economic damages, which have created the historical lows in the number of lawsuits filed against Florida doctors, we will see a rapid change for the worse in malpractice insurance rates. The only saving grace might be that many of the more experienced plaintiff attorneys may be so busy for the next decade or two suing BP that our Florida doctors will be spared the vast amount of frivolous claims that were a scourge before our 2003 tort reform. 
 
As in any market cycle, I suggest you consult an experienced medical malpractice insurance specialist agent who can guide you through the process of widely shopping your coverage and selecting the most appropriate insurer and policy options for your risk and practice profile.

Matt Gracey, Jr. is a medical malpractice insurance specialist agent with the firm of Danna-Gracey in downtown Delray Beach. To contact him call (561) 276-3553 or (800) 966-2120, or e-mail matt@dannagracey.com.

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