Medical professional liability insurance can be one of the largest purchases a healthcare professionals make. In this hardening insurance market where premiums are rising, the thought of obtaining medical malpractice insurance can be daunting for physicians. Healthcare professional may find themselves asking, how much is my insurance and is the coverage comprehensive?
Below is a breakdown of some of the factors that typically drive ratings (not all-inclusive list)
1. Territory - The ratings for insurance premiums vary by state and even sometimes by county. Rates vary between different locations due to how historically litigious a region may be. For instance, physicians in the District of Columbia may have higher rates than those in rural Virginia.
2. Specialty - The risks associated with your particular practice of medicine matters. A surgeon who operates on the brain or spine is going to have a higher risk of potential claims compared to a podiatrist or family physician.
3. Retroactive Date - This date can be different from your policy effective date. The retroactive date refers to the starting date on which the current policy will defend claims against you. If your retroactive date is the same date as your policy's coverage effective date, your premium is going to be lower because the risk of exposures is lower. When there are no "prior acts" covered and there are less patients potentially ready to file a claim. Once your retroactive date goes back five years, your premium should be at the mature rate, because you have more patient encounters and a higher exposure risk.
4. Claims History - Carriers typically offer some discounts for physicians that have not had any claims for a certain period of time. The average physician has a 61% chance of facing a claim during their career. Some physicians in other specialties such as General Surgery and Ob-Gyns are twice as likely to be sued during their career. According to the AMA, 50% in these specialties have been sued at least twice. Having claims rarely means your career is ending, but it could affect your premium when your policy renews.
5. Group Discount - The saying "there is safety in numbers" is very true when it comes to purchasing insurance. Groups tend to have more purchasing/buying power and can earn "group discounts". Professional Risk has successfully formed several Risk Purchasing Groups and Insurance Programs that give our physicians premium credit and greater buying power. Contact us to learn more about these opportunities or to join a group.
6. Limits of Liability - This can vary by state or you may have choices when it comes to setting your limits. Typically, purchasing higher limits will increase premiums. Some states like the Commonwealth of Virginia, have passed laws placing a cap on how much a patient or family can receive if their malpractice claim goes to court against physician or practice. In Virginia, these caps will increase every year until 2031, so physicians may continue to see a small increase in premium to reflect the increased limits.
7. Risk Sharing - Choosing to have a deductible may help keep your premiums low in the long-term. Always consult your insurance agent if you're considering this option.
8. Patient Volume/Hours Worked - Underwriters can review this several ways, but this essentially refers to your full or part-time status. Typically, carriers offer credits for physicians considered "part-time".
When it comes to pricing your policy, some carriers may have policy features others don't. Your insurance agent can help you compare cost and coverage options to help make purchasing medical malpractice insurance easier. Because there are so many facets to pricing your policy, you may have options you to help you save on your premiums. These could include risk management assessments or part-time discounts. Contact your agent today to receive a quote.